Saddo that I am, I was looking through the Programme for Government this morning (available at the Department of the Taoiseach here)to ascertain the details of the agreed policy on waste between the two parties.
This followed the so-called '2-4-6-8 what do we incinerate' split between the Government parties. Now John Gormley still says there is no conflict between himself and Bertie Ahern on incineration. But any reading of the Bert's contribution to the Dáil yesterday (and I know - sometimes it's hard to know what he's saying) would have to conclude that he is saying that four will be needed, not two.
The problem for Gormley is this. Planning applications for four incinerators are in the process and he can't turn back the clock on those. What he is doing is trying to fight a rearguard action that pushes all the alternatives hard and reduces the incentives for incineration to such an extent that promoters will walk away from it.
Instead, Gormley is stressing a higher recycling rate (50%) and the introduction of MBT facilities (Mechanical Biological Treatment). Now there is a commitment in the Programme for Government on MBT but critically there is no target date. The review of waste policy by international consultants will not start until the beginning of next year and take a year. Realistically, its going to take until way after 2012 before the all of these facilities are up and running.
A lot of the Greens input into the programme for government have either no dates or very long run-in times. They have already taken so many hits on compromise that they will need to show a whole lot of tangibles... and soon. (For my read on it from RTE's DriveTime yesterday click here
See my rant from yesterday on this. The details of pay awards for Taoiseach, Ministers and higher civil servants is being announced today. If they are sizable in any way, expect a whole lot of flak because it flies in the face of everything that Brian Cowen has been saying over the past couple of weeks.
That wonderful old phrase comes to mind: feathering their own nests.
In Ireland's multi-seat constituencies, the most heated rivalries of all are between so-called constituency colleagues. Witness the spats between the three FF TDs in Cork North West and the Fergus O'Dowd versus Mairead McGuinness battle in Louth. But none match the intensity or enmity between the two Fianna Fail TDs in Cork East. Below is my story about it from this mornings Irish Examiner:
The battle will go down in history as The Battle of the Tearoom, the latest episode in the longstanding, and poisonously bitter, feud between two prominent Fianna Fail TDs.
Junior minister Michael Ahern and former junior minister Ned O’Keeffe are ostensibly constituency colleagues in Cork East.
But the enmity between the two men is well known and catalogued. There have been a number of altercations, including one incident during the 2007 election campaign.
Constituency rivalries are one thing but as one other FF TD said yesterday, Ahern and O’Keeffe are involve din internecine warfare.
“These guys are the most bitter of rivals. There’s massive tension between the two characters. There’s nothing quite like it in Irish politics.”
The latest incident occurred yesterday morning, ironically around the same time as the Government was releasing its latest crime figures. The ‘action’, such as it was, happened near the door of the self-service restaurant when both men happened to arrive at the same time to get a cup of tea.
What is clear is that Michael Ahern addressed Ned O’Keeffe. The two men have not been on speaking terms for a long time and Mr O’Keeffe took exception to what Mr Ahern said. It led to an intense verbal altercation between the two men, a schemozzle of insults that lasted no more than 30 seconds, according to Pat The Cope Gallagher who was also present.
What exactly occurred after that is open to dispute. Ned O’Keeffe claimed that Michael Ahern pushed him. The Irish Examiner understands that that claim was strenuously denied by Ahern. Gallagher said that there was no physical dimension to it, other than one of the TDs (Mr Ahern) placing his hand on the shoulder of the other (Mr O’Keeffe).
The upshot was that Mr O’Keeffe made a complaint to the Superintendent of the Oireachtas, Commandant Paul Conway and also complained to Government Chief Whip Tom Kitt.
Mr Kitt later said that he had spoken to a number of people who were present when the incident took place, including the two protagonists.
“I am formally of the view, and my assessment, is that all that was involved was an exchange of words, he said.
Because he believed there was no physical aspect, he said he was not going to take the matter any further.
“I will advise both of them to avoid the possibility of such a situation arising again.”