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Labour Party Conference Weekend Away 2015

“Mr Waste lived across the street, right opposite the Slows,
And every weed that ever grew, in his front garden grows.
Bill Waste lost all his lesson books, Moll Waste on hers she scribbled,
And so between the pence and pounds away their money dribbled.
This story is a sad one; the end is as you fear.
Yes the Waste’s are in the Workhouse now, Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear.”

Allan JoanWith a General Election due before April 2016, the Labour Party (Irish: Páirtí an Lucht Oibre) held their Party Conference this weekend in the INEC Convention Centre in Killarney, Kerry.

Tánaiste Joan Burton of course was in attendance, as indeed was the self confessed Pretender to her leadership, Mr Alan Kelly, latter honoured to have been given a mandate to serve the people of Tipperary.
(Of course one wonders will there be anything left for him to lead after the next election, as Joan slips away, with her pension, into obscurity.) But then as my granny used to say, “Try not to mock the afflicted.”

In her speech the Tánaiste had no new real announcements stored up to report to the ‘great unwashed’.  She did vow to bring full employment back to Ireland in three years.  “Everyone who wants a job will have one or at least the opportunity to get one, by 2018,” she unconvincingly rattled without stating any proven methodology.

As expected Joan did launch an attack on mischievous militant elements evident during various demonstrations, accusing them of hijacking and bullying at peaceful protests. Nothing like the belt of a burst water balloon upsetting your hair style to implant forever, political memories, as any rowdy schoolboy will confirm.

Despite this Joan promised that every child will get two years of free pre-school care, well that is if Enda Kenny gives her permission, but Fine Gael ministers have since claimed that this plan is too expensive for the conceivable future. (No pun intended.)

Equality for gay people and their loved ones got a mention also from our Joanie, but no mention of equality for the “everyday straight men and women in dungarees,” who successfully have kept this country financially afloat despite introduced blanket taxation, as she and her Fine Gael comrades in government, floated from one bungling management catastrophe to another.

The Pretender to her throne, the ever ambitious Mr Alan Kelly, had spent the days before this “gathering of great minds,” baring his teeth, Jack Russell terrier style, while leaking his very own Conference Statements, which he was wont again to repeat to this assembly mass, with his usual stuttering lack of conviction.   “I enjoy a challenge,”  he told this same gathering on Saturday morning last. (Obviously he must not have enjoyed the challenge of attempting to wrestle the ‘Derrynaflan Hoard’  from National Museum curators; returning same briefly to Thurles, its home, for the 35th anniversary of its finding this year).

Mr Kelly did have a warning however for ‘Greedy Landlords,’  latter no doubt now lying sleepless and shaking in terror; “We have a situation, in some cases, where landlords feel they can get away with increases in rent that are absolutely scandalous and we need to bring an end to that. We need to bring about certainty through various different regulations and legislation if necessary. I’m committing here, that I am intent on entering the market to change this,” he continued, without revealing so much as a clue as to his real pre-election intentions.

One is hopeful that someone sat our Alan down later and explained to him that when you attract 75% of all new workplace employment into just one small city, demand for accommodation automatically becomes a suppliers market.  (They could also casually and in non-offensive terms mention the total failure by him to effect any worthwhile employment opportunities in his very own constituency of Tipperary.)

This planned “Weekend Away” for a rapidly shrinking ‘Labour Party Faithful’ was overall, (for those of us not in attendance), rather like watching paint dry and reminiscent of a rerun of RTÉ One’s “The Afternoon Show,”  latter of course without RTE’s cookery experts demonstrating the quick and easy recipe for ‘Garlic-Roasted Asparagus’.  Panellist Senator Ivana Bacik (God love her.) in particular certainly gave this impression to TV viewers, smiling as she discussed possible changes to legislation, solely based on her own personal youth experiences.

The Party Delegates in attendance did discuss and pass numerous motions, e.g. a motion was passed and carried which called for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which acknowledges the right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. Those who spoke included Senator Ivana Bacik, TDs Emmett Stagg and Aodhán Ó Ríordáin and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, all who commended the motion.

Party Delegates also overwhelmingly passed a motion calling on their own Government to reject a bid by the International Airlines Group (IAG) for shares in Aer Lingus if concerns about the sale are not addressed. The motion was passed with delegates demanding guarantees on the future of Aer Lingus, before any sale of State shares in the airline are permitted to take place.

Former Kerry County and Killarney Town Councillor Sean Counihan, (obviously ‘feeling the financial pinch of austerity’), called for the return of Town Councils for towns with a population of more than 10,000, which of course would include that poverty stricken tourism areas of Killarney and Tralee.

We learned Westmeath /Longford TD Willie Penrose is due to introduce a bill next week to reduce the bankruptcy period – from three years to just one year.

Of course the event could not be held without SIPTU President Mr Jack O’Connor, who informed Labour delegates that the party should “commit to a referendum to change the Constitution, so as to prohibit the privatisation of the public water supply”.  (Not a bad idea.)
He was also seeking the abolition of the Universal Social Charge (USC) and the replacing of same by a new progressive ‘Social Solidarity Contribution’, which he felt should be ring fenced to re-build his fee paying membership, the health service and provide for elder care and childcare. (The SIPTU President, who also called for Labour to recommit to free third-level tuition fees, obviously has not, as yet, fully jumped ship to join Sinn Féin, much I am sure to the Labour Party’s sigh of relief.)

Other good news is that Ann Phelan (Carlow–Kilkenny) will not be allowing further devastation to services here in rural Ireland. She stated “At this particular moment in time, I’m drafting a memo to Cabinet that while the recommendations … are on the table, that there are no more closures in rural Ireland of post offices, of schools, of Garda stations.” (NOTE: No mention of the removal of rural  transport services or the further annihilation of God from the present educational system.)

Taking everything into account the Irish electorate will have seen this Labour Party Conference as perhaps being about as useful, to our current economic demise, as the installation of an ashtray on a high-powered motorbike.

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