The Pete & Marty spendfest started in São Paulo, Brazil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I blogged a few weeks ago about the likely extent of the squandering of public money represented by Peter and Marty’s jollies to the Americas.
Today we hear the full extent of the rip-off.
It turns out that Pete & Marty, far from travelling alone, had an entourage of 6 helpers and a photographer. ”Junior Minister” Jonathan Bell also made the trip.
Apparently the group’s travel costs amounted to over £155,000 for the main 8 – that equates to nearly £20k each. That’s one hell of a trip. Presumably first class flights and luxury hotels at tax-payers’ expense.
And, of course, neither Peter nor Marty have any particular skin in the game. The Northern Ireland departmental budgets continue to be provided as a result of the largess of the UK exchequer. The Executive Ministers insist on telling us how squeezed departmental budgets are and how much the Treasury needs to bail us out of our woes. However, they can still carve out close to £1/4m of departmental budget to pay for luxury jollies to South America and China.
As I asked in a previous post, I look forward to hearing how they might calculate return on investment from these trips.
Michael D Higgins. In his final speech to the Dail argues that a real Republic has yet to be created in Ireland. Now he's the President of that Republic. Image via Wikipedia
As someone on the Libertarian wing of Conservatism I would take issue with much of Michael D Higgins’ sweeping assertions about the evils of individualism in this speech (see below). But as Higgins is the new President-elect of Ireland, I thought readers may be interested in gaining an insight of the man’s world views – and perspectives on Irish nationalism and Republicanism.
The speech is a veritable tour de force – his final to the Dail. He appears to have a few notes, but refers to them little. But it’s a remarkable speech in that it is made to an almost empty chamber which, in a strange way, adds weight to the points he makes about the failure of the Republic and the failure of the political class in Ireland to create one.
Indeed, Higgins refers to three failures in Irish democracy: failure in terms of participative government, failure in terms of adminstrative inclusion and abject failure in terms of communications between and across all strata of society. And while he falters a little at the start of his speech, he soon gets into his stride. If you thought Michael D Higgins was a gentle old poet, if you listen to this speech you’ll get a good idea about the extent of his socialist radicalism.
However, I forgive him for this partly because his passion is deep-rooted in his background and his genuine concern for social inclusion. The central premise of his speech is that while Egalitarianism and Nationalism were at the core of radical Republicanism in 1916, Nationalism became predominant – squeezing out any real Socialist notions that the emerging Free State had.
He also discusses the anti-Intellectual basis of the state – a point that resonates here in Northern Ireland. Even Sinn Fein, that used to claim to have some type of Marxist agenda, now plots, schemes and and strategises in its lust for power over any real ideological basis to its ambitions.
The bus to nowhere. Image by infomatique via Flickr
The most important learning that the Sinn Fein leadership has taken from the pitifully low polling for Martin McGuiness in the Irish presidential elections is (according to Gerry Adams in an interview for RTE today) that they need to be “strategic” and “mindful” of the grief of families of victims of IRA thuggery.
So there you have it. The IRA caused the grief. Adams and McGuinness were IRA leaders. Now they have to be strategic and mindful of the grief they caused in order to get more votes.
I believe that encapsulates why the winner of the Irish presidential campaign, Michael D Higgins, polled three times more first preference votes than McGuinness. A veritable thrashing. Well done Mr Higgins.