FG’s John Deasy“When a party rewards failure to the extent that Fine Gael and Enda Kenny has, it’s in serious trouble.”

As heard on Today with Sean O'Rourke

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Attention people of Cork. You have long since prided yourselves in calling yourselves “the rebels”, and your county, “The Rebel County”. But a word of warning. You have a claimant to that title. Your neighbour, the County of Waterford.

First it was Independent TD and member of government, John Halligan, who threatened to walk last month if a second cath lab was not given to Waterford University Hospital. Now it’s John Deasy, one of Fine Gael’s own, who really cut loose on his own party, speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke .

Yes, Waterford is fast becoming known for its rebel politicians.

“If this budget is framed to protect the status quo and the political classes running this country – which are Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil – that’s an absolute derogation… and a complete collapse when it comes to decision-making in the national interest.”

The Deasy family have form here, given that John Deasy’s father, Austin Deasy, resigned from Fine Gael in 1988 in protest against Alan Dukes’ Tallaght Strategy. How far John Deasy will take his rebellious streak remains to be seen. But today, joining Sean O’Rourke to discuss next week’s budget, the conversation took a few twists and turns.

Deputy Deasy quickly started into what he thinks are the fundamental errors in Ireland’s taxation system and how he sees Budget 2017 as history repeating itself; a tool for keeping the status quo.

The biggest group to be hit, in his opinion? Middle income earners.

“People call them ‘the squeezed middle’. I think they should be called ‘the people who pay for everything.”

“They’ve seen about seven or eight austerity budgets and they’re getting smashed. The incentive to work is actually fast disappearing and leaving their bodies. For Fine Gael, that is their natural constituency – those people in the middle. Fine Gael will be judged on whether or not they turn their backs on these people in the budget.”

So, Sean O’Rourke asked, if Deputy Deasy’s political views are so at odds with that of his party’s, what exactly is he doing in Fine Gael?

When his mother and father used to bicker, he said, his father would always accuse her of employing the tactic of ‘answering a question with a question’. It seemed Sean and John were straying into the area of domestic spats.

“Why is it unusual for you to speak to someone who has an opinion outside of what is commonly accepted in their political parties? Why is it extraordinary for you to talk to someone in Fine Gael with those viewpoints?”

OK, so enough of the whataboutery – to borrow a phrase coined by our host.

“There’s very little principle in Irish politics, that’s been my experience.”

Stark words from John Deasy, speaking very candidly and without any apparent compunction.

“Things are going to change in Fine Gael very soon, and I think everybody knows that. Whether it’s in the very short term or in the medium term; by that I mean in the middle of next year.”

Deasy is calling Leo Varadkar for the top Fine Gael job, with Simon Coveney following close behind. Right now, he says, a change, regardless of who it is, would be best.

And then, the final dissenting blow.

“I think when a political party rewards failure to the extent that Fine Gael and Enda Kenny has, it’s in serious trouble.”

Folks, it’s definitely worth checking out this interview. Radio gold, as they say.

For more from Today with Sean O’Rourke, click here.

© The Listener 2016

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