Monday, 23rd July 2018
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A Paper Anniversary

As he has been in high profile politics for such a long time, it is hard to think that Leo Varadkar has just celebrated his first year as Taoiseach. Over the last decade, there has hardly been a time when the man hasn't been out of the headlines for one reason or another. But it is his role as Taoiseach which has cemented his position in Irish history.

Of course such an anniversary didn't go past uncommented and he was given a rough ride in the Dail when the subject came up. As much as the man doesn't like to celebrate birthdays or other important milestones in his life there was absolutely no getting away from the fact of his first year as Taoiseach in a Dail where it seemed that the mass of the Opposition wanted a pop at him.

The Taoiseach tried to defend his position and did so admirably as there is much that he has seen done on his stewardship that has a lot to recommend it. There is of course the most recent referendum that saw the repeal of the 8th Amendment. It was this Government that brought it forward after many years where is just languished on the sidelines of Irish politics.

The huge numbers of people that came out to vote, and to vote in record numbers to repeal the Amendment was as a direct result of the Government taking the bull by the horns and tackling the issue. There were many other groups and organisations involved but it was the Government, and the Taoiseach, that set everything in motion and ushered in a new era for the women of Ireland. There is much in that to recommend Leo Varadkar.

Then there is the news on the economic front. There is record low unemployment and the country is going through a period of economic stability, indeed prosperity, then it has had in quite a number of years. You might say however that this prosperity hasn't entirely filtered down through all of society and there are still huge pockets of economic and social deprivation in quite a few areas in the country.

The one issue however where as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has failed and failed quite significantly is on the whole issue of homelessness. He was given quite a rough ride in the Dail about this and it is probably the one issue where the Government, no matter how they might spin the figures, can't really be certain that what they are doing is enough.

There are tens of thousands of people including thousands of children that are without homes that are living in accommodation that is simply not good enough. Creating enough homes for everyone is not something that can be remedied overnight but it clearly should be something that the Government should be working harder on or at least coming out and being more direct and clearer on.

It's said that a week is a long time in politics so therefore a year must be like a lifetime but in reality it isn't that long at all.The Taoiseach is surely aware that there will be a general election in the offing some time soon and that his role as leader of the country will come under the spotlight like never before.

He might have gotten a rough ride in the Dail for his first anniversary but it will be like nothing if the electorate turns against him.

Sinn Fein Ard Fheis

One of the most interesting things to come out of the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis is that they pulled back from putting into play a no confidence motion in Fine Gael Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy that could have resulted in a snap election in the south. No doubt this will be their last Ard Fheis before a new general election sometime this year and it seems as if the party is fighting fit.The Ard Fheis was notable for another reason and that was it was the first that its new leader Mary Lou McDonald addressed in that position. Ard Fheisanna are a window in the world of a political party, and it seems that Sinn Fein is on message, in good spirits and ready for whatever is to come.

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    Time for a breakJust as the height of Summer begins it seems that it is also the time when our politicians begin their yearly departure from Dail Eireann. While not many professions get as much holiday time as politicians do you have to ask the question whether they merit such long breaks?There are many who would immediately answer that they don't really deserve such long holidays, that they barely seem to spend any time in the Dail at all and after all they are well remunerated for the long hours …

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