Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cooperation and harmony under Proportional Representation in Ireland's Dail - A foul Single Transferable Vote moment!

This astonishing video shows the Green Party's Paul Gogarty using the most foul language imaginable in Ireland's Dail - Parliament - on December 11.

The Dail is where proponents of Proportional Representation and the Single Transferable Vote electoral system say everyone gets along cooperatively and works together!

Err, perhaps not.

Gogarty's YouTube hit won't likely be used by Fair Vote Canada or anyone else who posts on this blog to argue in favour of either PR or the Single Transferable Vote that elected Gogarty in Dublin!

But it's worth talking a short look to remind everyone who thinks changing the electoral system will actually change the behaviour of politicians. Even - or perhaps especially - Green Party elected officials can behave reprehensibly.

Gogarty is now in a lot of trouble at home.

Warning - very foul language!

UPDATE - December 20 - My curiousity and comments made in response to this video clip led me to go back to the actual debate to determine what was going on prior to Gogarty's F-word meltdown.

In fact, Gogarty's Green Party is part of an alliance with the much larger Fianna Fail Party that leads the current Irish government, with some Green deputies holding cabinet positions.

The Labour Party's Emmett Stagg - who is the target of Gogarty's F-You comments - ripped the Green-Fianna Fail government for slashing welfare:

Deputy Emmet Stagg: People currently on social welfare are very poor. A single person on social welfare, some of whom may be 50 years of age, have lost their jobs and are on €204 a week, will find their benefit reduced by a significant amount relative to them. They will not receive any extra rent allowance because that is also being changed. It will mean a net loss to them.

They live on loaves of bread and sausages; they do not buy fillet steaks because they cannot afford them. Steak is not on the menu for them. They will now be even poorer. The most vulnerable people are the blind, the disabled and the handicapped and they will all suffer severely arising from this.

I will contrast those we are arguing should have contributed with those whom the Government insist will contribute. People on supplementary welfare allowance, which is the last safety net provided by Government for people to stop them going hungry and to ensure they have a roof or some form of shelter, will pay, whereas the banker whom we recently funded with taxpayers’ money — he is being paid out of the same kitty as the person on supplementary welfare allowance — thought he could not exist on €500,000 a year. He will pay nothing. That is what we are complaining about, the way the money was found. I take these two extreme cases as an example of the people who will pay and the people who will not pay, to demonstrate the point clearly.

It is a disgrace that the Government made a decision to target specifically and solely in this budget the poorest people in the country, the most vulnerable, the most in need and the people who are likely to suffer severely arising from the money that is being taken from them. The really galling aspect for them, particularly many of the recently unemployed, is that they are being forced to pay for the near criminal activity of bankers and speculators — in some cases, criminal activity — and the fact that the Government aided and abetted that activity by turning a blind eye, day in, day out, year in, year out, to their activities.

Deputy Paul Gogarty had been defending his vote to support the cuts:

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I suppose if I am sitting here, I am a target. My name has been mentioned by a number of speakers. Yes, it is hard for me, and I would hope for any other God-respecting humanist republican — you name it — to support measures that hurt the vulnerable. Of course, it is hard for me. It is hard for me to gratuitously insult many of my constituents who are public sector employees and tell them: “Listen, lads. It is necessary. I feel your pain but it is necessary”. To them, it comes across as baloney, insincerity, political rant. We have had much of that in past the couple of days in this Chamber although I must acknowledge we have had much sincerity also....

I have received God knows how many texts, including today, from constituents in both the public sector and those in receipt of social welfare. They say it is a shame and a disgrace, and ask “How can you hurt vulnerable people?” Unfortunately, this is what this debate is about. The Labour Party says there is a radical alternative. Those on the Government benches say there is no alternative. I believe there was an alternative in our society and there may still be an alternative. However, as far as this budget goes, there is not much room for manoeuvre. That is the problem. I stated on the record last night that approximately €3.2 billion is being paid in interest on our loans this year. If nothing is done by 2013 it will go up to €11 billion, a quarter of our tax take.

The Green Party argued for a number of things. Personally, even though I be shot by some sectors for saying so, I believe certain people over the age of 65, if social welfare is being cut, could also take a 1% or 2% cut, instead of the blind, the carers and other sectors. That did not happen, a judgment call was made. Some might say it was a cynical decision by Fianna Fáil to protect its electorate. Others might say that the pensioners were hurt last year, as the protest showed, and we should not hurt them this year. A cynic might say again that the pensioners can come out and protest whereas the more vulnerable cannot.

Then the back and forth with opposition members prompted Gogarty's hot temper:

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Does Deputy Gogarty believe the legislation is right?

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I do not believe it is right to take anything from anyone vulnerable.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: The Deputy just said that.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Always blathering.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: It is, however, necessary.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Providing the Government and Fianna Fáil with justification.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: It is necessary because of the wrongdoing of others, wrongdoing I bear no responsibility for.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: What about the big players? What about the wealthy paying their share? Does Deputy Gogarty not think they should pay their share?

Acting Chairman (Deputy Michael Kennedy): I ask Deputy Shortall to please desist.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Bleating and blather.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I respected the Deputy’s sincerity and I ask him to respect mine.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: The Deputy does not seem very sincere from what he has been saying.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Stagg will have his opportunity in a few minutes.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: With all due respect, in the most unparliamentary language, fuck you Deputy Stagg. Fuck you.

Acting Chairman: Hey. Excuse me, Deputy Gogarty, that is most unparliamentary language.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Excuse me?

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I apologise now for my use of unparliamentary language.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: How dare he.

Acting Chairman: Could the Deputy please withdraw that?

Deputy Paul Gogarty: It is most unparliamentary language and I now withdraw it and apologise for it but I am outraged that someone dares question my sincerity on this issue.

I do not like what has to be done, but I will take responsibility, take it on the chin, get the unpopularity and lose my seat because it is the only thing we can do to get this country out of the state we are in.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: No it is not, it is not the only thing we can do. What rubbish. Deputy Gogarty has bought into the Fianna Fáil line on this.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I firmly believe that. Deputy Shortall should respect my view. I did not cause the economic mess, I did not take money from developers.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Excuse me, neither did the Labour Party. How dare the Deputy accuse us of that. How dare he.

Acting Chairman: Please, Deputy Shortall.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: That is the point.

Deputy Joe Costello: Do the right thing then.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Costello, please desist.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: The point is we are screwed as a country because of the wrongdoing of others.

Deputy Joe Costello: This the opportunity.

Acting Chairman: Deputy Shortall and Deputy Costello, please.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: That does not mean we shirk our responsibility to do the right thing now.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: The Government should not compound the problem by hitting the poor.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: I do not like this unfair budget but it was made unfair because of bankers, developers and corrupt politicians.

Deputy Joe Costello: That is right, the people over there.

Deputy Paul Gogarty: The remedy must still be applied.

Deputy Shane McEntee: It is not necessary to go to bed with them though.

Once again - for those misguided souls who argued heartily that under the Single Transferable Vote politicians work together cooperatively and respectfully, I strongly urge you to read the debates of the Dail - they are highly illuminating!

PS - for an absolutely hilarious take off on Gogarty's tirade, see this YouTube video titled F Factor - it's an edited version that puts Gogarty swearfest into competition on Britain's Got Talent, including footage of Simon Cowell and his panel listening to Gogarty!



DPL said...

When PT said "Fuddle duddle" a few folks swallowed their gum but the Irish guy wasn't quite so diplomatic. Notice how crowded the room was at the time? I get interested when we get to watch the brawls that happen in some other countries. The guy calls a spade a shovel for sure...

Anonymous said...


MPs behaving badly, I'm shocked and truly upset, next thing you know the Globe & Mail will be reporting on accusations LIBERALS were using BC drug-money to finance party operations and leadership races.


Henri Paul said...

F_ck, One of the best of the top 10 words in the English language.
Often imitated but never duplicated.

Dawn Steele said...

No offence Bill, but if I were an Irish politician facing the dire fiscal and economic consequences of financial sector deregulation, the Celtic Tiger bubble, the inevitable crash and the enormous pain that's now causing Ireland's most vulnerable citizens, that's probably about as polite a comment as I myself could muster in confronting the criminally negligence of the government representatives responsible for the whole mess.

Anonymous said...

Your a better person than me Bill. I agree with Dawn S. Only I may have bitten his ear.

Bill Tieleman said...

No offence taken Dawn but the reason Gogarty screamed at the Labour Party representative Stagg - and it's a bit hard to hear - was because Stagg said "You don't seem very sincere."

Gogarty is pretty obviously unready for prime time if that kind of mild remark gets him into an F-word frenzy against an opposition member.

In fact, the Green Party is part of the Fianna Fail coalition government, so Gogarty is a member of that negligent government.

The Green Party has been a part of the government, including holding cabinet seats, since June 2007.

Perhaps that explains Gogarty's nasty behaviour!

FYBT said...

A couple of short lists. First, political people I really dislike roughly in order that I wish they would disappear forever.

Gordon Campbell, Kevin Krueger, Kevin Falcon, Stephen Harper, Bill Tieleman, Colin Hansen, Michael Ignatieff, Carole James, Jean Chretien and hundreds more including Jack Layton and my current MLA, Adrian Dix. Elizabeth May and Jane Sterk should probably be in there somewhere, did I miss any other major party leaders?

A much shorter list of political people I respect and wish we had more of.

Pierre Trudeau, Ross Perot, Vicky Huntington. Now Paul Gogarty joins this list and in fact moves to the top of the list.

Hard to say which I found more hilarious, the video or the blog text. That's the most foul language imaginable? You need to get out more. And that throng of what, a dozen people? Nobody had any interest in listening at that point anyways.

But you're right, I won't use that video to promote PR. I'll point people towards the entire dialogue. It's at

Shane McEntee (about halfway down)mentions Gogarty in his speech as does Joe Costello, up next. When Gogarty stands, he acknowledges that those opposed to his view are trying to persuade him to change his vote but he sticks with his conscience about the decision he has made and provides an excellent reasoned portrayal of what the issue is and why it is such a tough choice he must make.

After continued heckling, resulting in his outburst, amidst the chaos of everyone talking, Gogarty says this:

"I do not like what has to be done, but I will take responsibility, take it on the chin, get the unpopularity and lose my seat because it is the only thing we can do to get this country out of the state we are in."

An honest politician, speaking his mind giving Emmet Stagg what he felt was deserved, willing to put his career in jeopardy over an unpopular decision (worse than the HST here) because he feels it is best, not because he must play follow the leader.

If you don't approve of these traits then you must absolutely love someone like Colin Hansen.

Was Gogarty rude? If that's how you define rudeness. But it's so commonplace now that it's debatable whether it can be labelled offensive.

How about MacEntee, Costello, Stagg and Roisin Shortall? I think their banter was more rude but to be fair Gogarty also interrupted Stagg later but not to the same degree.

And we already put up with offensive dialogue in our own Legislature. We call it debate and let it pass for democracy in action.

Jay said...

Well put, FYBT. Bill, I think you missed the mark here.

Anonymous said...

STV seems to be doing its job here ... keeping the socialists and labourists out of government.