I appeared on last night’s edition of The Week in Politics on RTE One. It was a Dublin South by-election debate that included Fine Gael’s George Lee and Fianna Fáil’s Shay Brennan.
You can view the programme by clicking here (starts at 32mins).
There was another Dublin South by-election debate earlier this morning, this time on RTE Radio 1’s Today with Pat Kenny. I was once again joined by candidates George Lee, Shay Brennan, Shaun Treacy and Elizabeth Davidson for a round-table discussion on the issues that might sway the voters on June 5.
You can listen to the debate by clicking here. The piece begins at 17mins 20sec.
Last night, I took part in a Dublin South by-election debate on TV3’s Nightly News with Vincent Browne. My fellow panellists were also candidates on June 5: Fine Gael’s George Lee, Fianna Fáil’s Shay Brennan and Sinn Féin’s Shaun Treacy.
“Serious times demand serious politics. After a week in which a journalist has been virtually deified for joining Fine Gael, it’s time to get real” said Alex White, the party’s by-election candidate in Dublin South.
“I am putting myself before the electorate because I believe passionately in the power of politics to inspire all of us to bring about change. Politics is not a vanity project. For me, it’s about fundamentally changing the political direction of our country.
“For years we have endured a pseudo contest between two conservative parties. We need to break out of the redundant party mould of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, which is contributing so much to our national paralysis.
“The electorate is entitled to ask what George Lee stands for.
“Fine Gael seems to think that he should be elected simply because he is well-known and new to politics. He himself has said very little. But some of what he has said is astonishing, dangerous and regressive.
“He believes the HSE should be subjected to more competition in order to deliver vital health services. This is exactly the PD philosophy of ‘competition at all costs’ that has led to the madness of co-located hospitals. George also wants to sell off Bord Gais. Has he learnt nothing from the debacle of Eircom?
“There is no doubt that Brian Cowen’s government is discredited. But I do not believe that Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael offers any genuine alternative. Enda Kenny’s leadership has little public credibility while Eamon Gilmore surpasses him consistently in polls, and in the Dail” said White.
“Bluntly put, Enda Kenny is not the leader the country wants. Celebrity endorsements will not change that.
“Nothing captures the emptiness at the heart of the Fine Gael’s electoral strategy in Dublin South more than Brian Hayes’s remarks over the weekend: ‘People are losing their jobs and George [Lee] has huge credibility because he has been on TV talking about it for so long’.
“Is this the best they can do?”
The announcement by Fine Gael that George Lee is to be its candidate in the Dublin South By-Election is intriguing, given his repeated denials up to the weekend that this was to be the case.
However, I welcome his entry into the field. George Lee has made a significant contribution to economic debate over recent years and has been a forthright critic of government policy. I have no doubt that he will be a formidable candidate.
The real challenge now is not just to describe or explain our economic crisis and its causes, but also to bring forward solutions. We are facing a deep economic crisis, but we also have a crisis in the ability of our political system to respond. People are crying out for radical new ideas and also for a clean break with the past. I honestly believe that we will never achieve that if our politics continues to be dominated by two parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, whose differences are based on an old and forgotten controversy from the 1920s.
This is truly a time for change and not for more of the same.
I look forward to debating these issues with George Lee and with other candidates in the Dublin South By-Election. I am confident that my work over the years on the ground in Dublin South will be a significant factor in ensuring that Labour wins this crucial election on June 5th.
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