A Willie O'Dea for the 21st century? Willie spent years as a backbencher willing and able to try and defend all kinds of government nonsense on behalf of FF, now that he's a minister he can't be doing that sort of thing any more. Well apart from in the Sindo but we've covered that already. However, it seems FF have unearthed a new Willie for a new age, as seen on PrimeTime this evening in the shape of Sean Fleming
Sean found fault with the fact that the FG/Labour plan is dependent on economic performance. Of course it appeared to completely shock him when Richard Bruton reminded him that all such plans and commitments are couched in such language, even the FF plan is dependent on things like growth and the absence of recession. Not that Sean is likely to have read his party's plan. After all when you're a FF backbencher your normal tactic is to promise people whatever they want in the hope that they'll have forgotten about it after the summer.
Sean Fleming then moved on to suggest that the reason for not delivering 200,000 extra full medical cards is down to our economic performance and the fact that not as many people are on social welfare. Yet, if that was the case then why was a number of 200,000 used? Why not say everyone under a a certain income threshold or at a certain percentage of the average industry wage would get a card? They choose the figure of 200,000 and they have to judged on that.
Then he was onto the commitment that all classes for under-9s would be of 20:1 class size. I find it truly bizarre that a government would suggest that the reason for not reaching the class size figure of 20:1 is because of special needs. Was there some explosion of special needs children after 2002 that caught the government unaware? They had been in government for 5 years to that point. Did they not know how many children were in the category of special needs. Of course not, the fact is they never intended on delivering the class size changes. Why? I'm only guessing but what if someone took a look at the nature of the teaching contracts and the allocation of special needs teacher and assistants to schools. I wonder if they would find that their presence is dependent on a certain number of children requiring their assistance. Should those numbers drop then the positions might disappear. Much different to hiring a permanent full time teacher who is assigned to the school for good.
I was a little annoyed (only a little mind) that Katie Hannon, even if she is FF gene pool as she admits herself in her book on the Naked politician, allowed the idea that because most waiting lists for operations are now between 2-5 months that this somehow meets the government promise of 3 months. Also it is worth noting that the clock doesn't start ticking for you being on a waiting list until you see a consultant. So the time you spend between getting sick, seeing your GP and finally seeing a consultant is apparently not waiting at all but some weird kind of limbo. Perhaps someone should get onto the Pope and tell him this is where it ended up!