Mayor of Kerry vs Pat Kenny

A quick post in relation to the Mayor of Kerry, Toireasa Ferris, and her appearance on the Late Late Show on Friday night. No, I’m not discussing her wardrobe; that was only a minor issue compared to the bulk of what happened, and I support Toireasa’s points on the matter in today’s press. Any paper that attacks her on her wardrobe shows a lack of ability to deal with the real issues of the interview and is simply going for cheap headlines.

A bit of background: Toireasa is the 26-year-old Mayor of Kerry, and daughter of Sinn Fein TD (and convicted IRA terrorist) Martin Ferris. She was on the Late Late show on Friday to discuss her position as a young person in politics.

Toireasa is one of the people often mentioned when people talk about the number of young people in Sinn Fein. That’s a myth we can dispell immediately. Fianna Fail has more young members, runs more young candidates, and has more young elected representatives than any other party in Ireland, north or south.

The interview was fairly gentle, until Pat pushed Toireasa on her views on the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe. In a shocking piece of political-speak, straight from SF headquarters, Toireasa said she was “not authorised” to condemn the attack.

I couldn’t believe it. Yes, we need more young people in politics. Of course I’m going to support young people getting involved, particularly at a local council level. It is a credit to Toireasa that she has reached such a high position at such a young age. But, as young people, we should be there to stand up for what we believe in. I regularly speak out against Government policy, in public and in private. To say she was “not authorised” shows a shocking level of contempt for personal thought. Pat wasn’t asking for a SF line, he was looking for a personal opinion.

Either have some idealism and stand up for what you beleve in, or get out of politics. It’s that simple. If you cannot speak your mind as a young person, relatively new to politics, then you’re not going to be able to speak your mind in 5, 10 or more years time. Toireasa Ferris has all the hallmarks of the “new breed” of SF candidate- young, presentable, no previous convictions- but also shares the inability for independent thought.

No Councillor in Fianna Fail requires “authorisation” to say anything. That’s how democratic parties work. SF is (slowly) moving towards democratic politics (and performs well on councils across the country, including Letterkenny Town Council) but, as the saying goes, old habits die hard. One need only consider the case of Francie Molloy, Mayor of Dungannon, who was suspended from the party for straying from official policy.

So I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Here’s some things the Government have done that I think are wrong. The current situation at Letterkenny General Hospital is shocking, as is the failure to deal effectively with the needs of Cancer Patients in the North West. I’ve actively campaigned against Fianna Fail’s failure to organise in Northern Ireland. Funding for many schools still falls behind their needs, an example being St Eunan’s College. At tonight’s council meeting, I’ll be calling for Letterkenny to be included in the RAPID programme, which governemnt policy has excluded it from. There’s more than that, and I’m sure there will be more in the future.

Was I authorised to criticise the Government on any of those issues? Of course not. And I shouldn’t need to be. If Toiressa Ferris didn’t want to discuss those issues, that’s one point. But to say she “wasn’t authorised” shows how little individual thought is tolerated in SF.

This issue is being discussed robustly online here, here and here. The clip from the show should be available soon, I’ll update here when it is. Comments are open, if you have something to say.

Update: RTE have updated their Late Late Show archive, but have not included the interview with Toireasa Ferris. Thanks to everyone who has linked to this site; traffic has gone through the roof. I welcome all comments below.

20 thoughts on “Mayor of Kerry vs Pat Kenny

  1. Where are you getting the clip from the show?

    Nice to actually see politicians writing blogs also. I came across it when i found you had linked to me.

  2. a few things to clarify from your little biased spin .

    1) there’s nothing to “dispell” as you so eloquently put it. Sinn Féin have never claimed that they have a larger youth base than FF or any other party. You didn’t dispell any myth as ther was no myth there to dispell. the irony of your “going for cheap headlines” comment in the previous section is indeed delicious in this regard.

    2) she never said that she “wasn’t authorised” to do anything. perhaps if you had actually listened properly to the piece, or even listened to Matt Cooper’s phone in show on Monday, you would have realised that she said that she didn’t feel she had the authority to comment on the matter, either in a personal or professional capacity. tomatoe tomato you say? well if you don’t know the difference between the 2 then i suggest you re-educate yourself.

    3) “No Councillor in Fianna Fail requires “authorisationâ€? to say anything.” – laughable in the extreme. of course no councillor in Sinn Féin requires authorisation either. however, stepping out of line with either party will result in a slap across the wrists. stench of “my daddy could beat up your daddy” of that particular one.

    the cheap, and quite frankly, childish nature of the piece is quite humourous. perhaps you should stick to proper issues instead of this silly attack on another party.

  3. Jonathan,

    a) I never said it was a SF myth- but I do consider it to be a commonly held perception among people across the island. It’s a point that is often put to me, about SF engaging with young people better than other parties.

    b) Two points here- firstly, this piece was written before she would have been on the radio with Matt Cooper (in an interview I didn’t hear). Secondly, my recollection is that she did say she wasn’t “authorised”. It’s also the way the point has been reported in every media reference I’ve seen to the interview. When RTE has the archive online, we can judge it directly then. You’ve created a different point here, and attacked that. Very rudimentary debating skill.

    c) I’m free to criticise any element of either Government or Fianna Fail policy that I disagree with. As you have seen, I even criticise a number of policies in this article. Neither I, nor any councillor I know, has had anything ever resembling a “slap on the wrist”. Take that against the only example I can find of a SInn Fein member speaking out against their party policy, Francie Molloy as referenced in my article.

    I wouldn’t consider this a “silly attack on another party”. I consider it an important issue to be considered by young people going into politics. Are you going into it to serve your community, driven by an ideological desire, or are you doing it to serve an ideology, and do (and say) what you’re told to do (or say)?

    I’m going to be away from the computer for most of the next few days, so please excuse if my replies are slow.

  4. I’m going to be away from a computer until Monday, so I’ve had to switch to approved comments. This means your comments won’t appear automatically, but will wait until I get back on Monday. I’ll still allow the same level of comments (including those highly critical of me personally, as above).

  5. Great piece. Damien. I am not much of a Fianna Fail supporter but id probably give you my vote. Alas i am no where near Letterkenny.

    I totally argee with your post. This and Molloy show a shocking attitude in Sinn Fein.

  6. An interesting exchange on this site. I have not seen the interview in question as Pat Kenny is about as dreary to watch as he is to listen to.
    One point strikes me though, when it is claimed that FF councillors and TDs do not have to seek authorisation before making public pronouncements (the free thinking devils). Whilst that may indeed be the case, have you ever seen or heard one (who may be seeking preferment at some stage) step out of line with the party message no matter the context? A casual listen to the Vincent Browne show on RTE radio will serve up endless FF and other ‘mainstream’ politicians brown nosing government policy or their party leader’s stance, attempting to explain away catastrophies and scandals and defend the indefensible in often the most drivelling and jargonistic ways.
    I only ask out of interest.

  7. Sean Said:
    At least she is mayor of Kerry and you are what ?

    Not that it matters, but my credentials are all over this site. It doesn’t matter what position I hold; you should either be addressing my points or adding something new to the debate. Ironically, that ties in with the points I raised in the first paragraph about the newspapers that have attacked Toireasa Ferris for her attire, rather than her point. Here, you’re trying to attack me personally, rather than my points.

    Saint Said:
    Great piece. Damien. I am not much of a Fianna Fail supporter but id probably give you my vote. Alas i am no where near Letterkenny.

    I totally argee with your post. This and Molloy show a shocking attitude in Sinn Fein.

    Many thanks for your comments, it’s just a pity you’re not in this part of the world!

    Kiernan Said:
    An interesting exchange on this site. I have not seen the interview in question as Pat Kenny is about as dreary to watch as he is to listen to.
    One point strikes me though, when it is claimed that FF councillors and TDs do not have to seek authorisation before making public pronouncements (the free thinking devils). Whilst that may indeed be the case, have you ever seen or heard one (who may be seeking preferment at some stage) step out of line with the party message no matter the context? A casual listen to the Vincent Browne show on RTE radio will serve up endless FF and other ‘mainstream’ politicians brown nosing government policy or their party leader’s stance, attempting to explain away catastrophies and scandals and defend the indefensible in often the most drivelling and jargonistic ways.
    I only ask out of interest.

    There are, of course, many people in Fianna Fail who will follow the Government line. The point I’m making is that the decision falls to each member as to whether they support the party policy. In a party as large as Fianna Fail, you’re always going to get people who support the official policy, but I highly doubt that everyone supports all the policies all of the time.

    Comments are now on again, and unmoderated. Please do not post any offensive or defamatory content. I can accept no liability for anything posted here.

  8. You have this sort of person as a MAYOR!!! thank feck for the Irish sea —Any chance of towing Ireland out into the atlantic say another 1500 miles

  9. Accotding to the Clare People 11 out of 15 Fianna Fail Clare county councillors believe that Síle De Valera should resign as Minister of State. None of them will speak on the record.

    This may not be because they are ‘not authorised’. It’s more likely, given Bertie’s recent pronouncements, that they don’t actually know where Fianna Fáil stand on this one.

  10. Just to clarify to everyone she is not ‘Mayor of Kerry’. No such title exists. Her position is Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of Kerry County Council.

  11. Con,

    That point was also made in the (I think) Irish Independent editorial, but is inaccurate.

    As part of the Local Government act, 2001, any local authority can chose whether to call their Chairperson “Caithoirleach”, “Mayor” or “Meara”. The info is set out at in the act itself, here.

    At the last monthly meeting of Donegal County Council, they voted to change to Mayor as well. The change was made in Letterkenny in 2003 (I think).

  12. D Blake
    The remark is of course about Ms Ferris

    Elaborate?? well in my view the irish sea is not yet wide enough, as I say another 1500 miles or so would be a help– with luck the whole sorry mess will leak and disappear all together- apologists for murders as Mayors??- one step up from the north I suppose where they go the whole hog and appoint the actual murderers.

    On second thoughts make that 2500 miles

  13. Referring to Martin Ferris as a “convicted IRA terrorist” is not conducive to any meaningful political debate. He is no more a terrorist than the founding fathers of Fianna Fail.

    “No Councillor in Fianna Fail requires “authorisation” to say anthing”. Untrue and profoundly naïve. Of course the favorite FF tactic is their obsession in reinforcing their Mafia like code of Omearta with regard to FF white collar corruption.

  14. “Just to clarify to everyone she is not ‘Mayor of Kerry’. No such title exists. Her position is Cathaoirleach (Chairperson) of Kerry County Council. ”

    Is this true that she is not Mayor.
    I’m sure she was introduced on the Late Late as Mayor of kerry and she certainly didnt object to the title.
    I remember the interview, not sure what she was talking about. But i do remember kneeling down at the front of the TV, trying to see what colour knickers she was wearing, if any :-).
    Garry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>