Lucinda Creighton and rebooting Ireland

By Eoin Molloy

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(Leahy, Creighton and Hobbs)

Lucinda Creighton, the former Fine Gael TD who left the party over the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill last year, is finally forming her long-heralded new political party.

The announcement came at a press conference on January 2 attended by Eddie Hobbs, independent Offaly councillor John Leahy and Creighton herself.

Having toyed with the idea of a ‘Reform Alliance’ last year, Lucinda appears no closer to having a name for her new party.

While the party may not have a name as of yet, it has a hashtag: #rebootireland. Ireland isn’t working any more, this much is true, but the solution isn’t as simple as turning the nation on and off again.

The movement’s website, rebootireland.com, states that the new party will ‘change the way we do politics’ as well as ‘championing human inventiveness’, whatever that means.

The website asks users if they want to ‘get involved’ or ‘become a candidate’. The seeming easiness of standing as a candidate for the Dail as part Lucinda’s new party will suit stranded stragglers like Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames down to the ground.

This new ‘Rent-A-Party’ has four main aims. The first of which seems to support small businesses. Lucinda wants to build an economy for entrepreneurs. The party also aims to ‘make the public sector public by fostering a sense of entrepreneurship in the public sector’.

The new group wants to ‘give politics back to the people’. To this I say: why not give politics to the entrepreneurs while we’re at it? Finally, Lucinda’s party also seeks to measure government with a clear social target, also referred to as a ‘minimum lifestyle standard’.

Unfortunately for people who want actual change in Ireland, Lucinda’s four point plan is flawed far beyond its awkward phrasing. The aims are all ridiculously vague, open-ended and filled with ambiguous buzzwords. Tangible change through clearly-defined policies is not on offer here.

However, one thing we know for sure about Lucinda’s brainchild is that it is entirely business-oriented. Various forms of the word ‘entrepreneur’ were mentioned over twenty times at her hour-long press conference.

What Lucinda envisions seems to be what economist Jeffrey D. Sachs calls a ‘corportocracy’ whereby business exercises control over the entire economic and political system of a nation. This is a highly undemocratic way of thinking, and can lead to totalitarianism (as happened in fascist Italy).

Lucinda believes that the ‘old paradigms of left and right’ are now obsolete. Either she is completely delusional and believes that centuries of having political lefts and rights are now behind us, or she intends for her new party to hug the centre of the political spectrum.

Unsurprisingly, the party has no official stance on ongoing people’s issues like the water charges. Lucinda does not want to reveal her hand just yet.

Also, the very fact that she was joined by Eddie Hobbs (the man who advised Irish people to take out loans to buy foreign property during the boom) should be raising alarm bells for anyone considering voting for this new party.

We all know Lucinda to be very conservative when it comes to social matters. She voted against allowing abortions even in cases where mother’s lives are at risk. She has no stance on the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, even referring to it as the ‘gay marriage referendum’.

She believes the current political system to be ‘past its sell-by date’, much like her views on abortion. However, one area where she is correct is that no party should enforce a party whip (whereby if you vote against your party you are automatically expelled). Lucinda’s new creation will not apply a whip to ‘matters of conscience’, but will apply then to money bills and votes of confidence.

The new party is not exactly attracting the most popular of candidates. Billy Timmins, another former Fine Gael TD who lost the party whip for voting against abortions, is said to be interested in standing as a candidate for the new party. Timmins famously said that the way to eradicate homelessness is to make it illegal for people to sleep rough on the streets. No, seriously.

Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames (of Facebook frape fame) is also said to be interested in joining up. She famously appealed a fine of 100 euros for failing to purchase a ticket for an intercity train. She was also taken to court by a plumber for failing to pay 10,000 euros in unpaid fees. On top of all of this, the Senator’s car was impounded in July 2012 for not having an in-date tax disc. It is worth noting that she claimed one of the highest expenses packages of any Senator last year.

If Timmins and Healy-Eames are to be taken as examples of the type of candidate that is being accepted, it is therefore clear that Lucinda’s new party will be a far cry from revolutionary.

Ireland needs a new party. To invert an old Batman quote: #rebootireland is not the new party Ireland needs, nor is it the party we deserve. It is a party that will continue to put business interests ahead of the wellbeing of citizens, and we already have plenty of those.

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