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Do we have a Minister for Transport?

  • 22-09-2018 7:36pm
    Registered Users Posts: 20,374 ✭✭✭✭

    Shane Ross...

    Does this guy do anything?

    Never mind that most projects are going to take 10 + years apparently (which means they won't happen before next downturn and thus not at all) I have seen NO initiatives at all from him.

    He does not seem to push the case for anything.

    All I see from him is Healy Rae style gombeen localism on issues not to do with transport.

    Maybe i'm wrong and others disagree but he strikes me as the most useless so called 'Minister for Transport' we have ever had.

    And that's saying something!


  • I'd say if he had his way, ye wouldn't be ale to use mouthwash in the mornings, for fear you'd happen across a breath test :D

  • Publicity hound. Nothing more.

  • Minted, how and why he got into where he is ..... Mind boggling

  • As this subforums resident politico, reporting direct from the swamp, allow me to give a mix of opinion and fact:

    There are two issues here. The first is Ross as an individual minister and how the PRSTV system gives us creatures like him (fact). The second is my opinion as to why FG never seem to actually do any major policy changes or new projects.
    This is a long post but I'm amazed how many are unaware of how politics affects PT so I think it's worth the explanation.

    First to Ross:

    In theory, a minister is meant to be the 'big picture' guy. He or she are meant to set out a strategic vision/general plan (previously approved by the cabinet and MOF so it can be funded) and then the actual implementing as well as day to day management are done by quangos and the civil service. So I as minister for Transport may come up with Transport 21 but then I'll tell the quangos "implement this". I'll tell them what I want but they'll actually be the ones to select routes, determine what's viable overground v underground etc.

    What Ross was trying to say is that the minor detail, the routes, numbers, fares etc are not his job really, he's meant to 'zoom out' and look at the big picture, not sit in the office making decisions on where the new 185 route goes etc. He CAN intervene at that level IF he wants to, but usually they don't. To be brutally honest with you, as many civil servants have told me, most ministers (of all parties) don't have a grasp on their portfolio, would not know the first thing about the area they are in charge of, and actually are not very bright people, they are just in it to get the money and status because frankly they could not get that in any other job due to their ineptitude). They got there cos they're good at gladhanding but nothing else. But even with a smart capable minister, they prefer to keep those minor decisions non political so that what is technically wise can just be done. The idea is the same in other areas:

    • In health the HSE to be left to decide where a full general hospital will go based on population / available medical skill sets, ambulance coverage, not how many people are going to call into Joe Duffy. The MOH CAN intervene if they want, but it's not something encouraged.
    • In justice, even though parliament makes the laws and the executive branch enforces/implements them, it's not the MOJ and the AG who actually order arrests and prosecute people, there is a quango (the DPP) for that to make it as non political as possible (with elected DAs in the USA they'll make politically motivated decisions all the time that might be popular but not just). The law allows the AG and MOJ to order arrests in special circumstances, it even allows them to take the DPPs powers away totally in specific areas, but they usually don't.

    But in Ross case this is not an explanation of the way the system works - it's an excuse for why he's doing nothing at all.

    The PRSTV system we have is great, it's way better than the US or UK system but it has one flaw: independents and parish pump. I won't go into it all again because I've made the case here before about how it puts local before national. But independents are the extreme version of that. If I'm a FF TD for x area and I wanna be all parish pump I have a national party with national policies and a head office dragging me to think in a national big picture. If I'm an independent all I have to think about is my own back yard. This is why I think we should move to MMR like Germany you'd have a more national thinking political leadership.

    The last election was a hung dail, so no block had a majority. Besides a minority FG govt the only other possibility was a broad rainbow coalition of FF-SF-LAB-Green-Indos as a minority or a coalition, and SF refused to participate in it so that left us with FG by default OR another election, and polls showed we'd just get another hung dail, so election was out. The deal was FF will abstain on votes of confidence and budget in exchange for xyz policy concessions. But even with us abstaining FG didn't have enough. This was because their former partners got totally ass raped for breaking their promises and many previous floating voters that went FG by default because Brian Cowen made their blood boil came back home. So they needed a few independents to make up the coalition. These jumped up nobodys wanted more than being part of the govt and pork for their local areas they wanted to be ministers. The last time we had independents as minsters was the 1940s and there is a reason for that: THEY ARE REALLY BAD AT IT. They don't think nationally they think locally.

    That's what happened with Ross:

    • Being an independent, he's more worried about Garda stations and halting sites (usually imaginary ones the rumors of which were started by his own people so he can bravely fight them, a rather tired jaded Irish political tactic that never fails to spook the middle class areas).

    • He represents an area full of middle class yuppies who care about things like inheritance tax (don't you know it's so hard when your portfolio is chipped away at GAWD), property tax etc The area is also older in profile so they don't have the same concerns as even most middle class areas. Peter Matthews used to be really popular in the area, this is a guy who would do things like make his presence known at mass by standing up and hurling rosary beads around above his head in a circle. I'M AT MASS IM A CATHOLIC NOT LIKE THIS NEW SORT WITH THEIR BUDDISM AND ATHEISM AND THEIR SNAPCATS!! Yeh they're old. They are upper middle class for the most part they already have 2 cars, they are not waiting for the Metro in desperation as they cram onto a bus coming out of Swords at the crack of dawn. Another thing you must understand about these areas in the phenomenon of imaginary crime, they imagine themselves to have crime problems that don't actually exist - I know, but they do.
    • Independents (many TDs but Indos esp) think about the next election only.
    • So he was the worst person to pick for a job that requires a national vision that think of the countries needs a quarter century down the line.

    The sick thing I found about many of these grey heads is deep down, when they've had a few drinks, many of the nastier creatures will admit that they don't worry too much about what will happen in 25 years since they'll be long dead or into pension territory, this is why Labours ministers didn't care about doing a u-turn on all their policies from 2011 and that it would kill off their party...they just don't care...they just DONT they would be retiring and the younger people can deal with that. My pension and my secured future. I've actually had the experience, more than once I'm so sad to say, of being laughed at (by older entities in FG, FF and Lab) for not understanding why they make xyz short term decision that's clearly bad for the country, then the 4-5 people laughing at me inform the poor stupid child that its because it was good in some way for the one making the decision.

    The biggest laugh at my expense came apparently at my saying it's what you leave behind as a contribution to the nation long after you are dead that matters way more than your poxy pension, the stuff you ironically won't be around to see, when the historians can say you left the country a better place when when you started. Apparently I'll grow out of that "nonsense" when actually elected.
    I since managed to team up with people who still don't think like that despite being elected who have reassured me that our political leadership are not all that's my wonderful uplifting message for the day...all your leaders are not scum :D A large number yes, but not all. YAY!

    My point? Many of them, for various reasons just don't care about their job.

    Second is my opinion on why the Taoiseach is not telling Ross to get on top of his portfolio.

    The most obvious thing is Leo needs his vote, if he was a FG minister he'd be reshuffled to something harmless like arts after a performance like that, even in a FG govt that would not be tolerated, but there is a bigger issue at work here.

    I'm going to try to be as non partisan as I can here, I'm a new FFer (were a lovely bunch trying, successfully, to drag them in a totally new direction but actually pushing on an open door in most areas esp with the PDs gone...) but please excuse/indulge a swipe at FG which I think is a fair one: They don't do anything....they just don't do anything. Because their base is mostly upper middle class in cities and better off farmers outside them, they are not affected by most of the big hot button policy issues:

    • They are not in any financial crises, the most they'd get screwed by the banks is their finance company messing with their pension fund without them knowing about it as they do enjoy screwing their own clients.

    • Their kids go to fee paying schools so do not have resource shortages.

    • They have private health insurance so can go to a private hospital bypassing the problems in health.

    • They own two cars or take the Luas so they are not affected by the same transport system younger and less well off voters are.

    ...and on and on

    They can get back into office just by keeping this section of society happy with a few tax cuts and going after the skangers on welfare (which was one of their main tacs last time and seems to be this time too, divide and conquer)

    Other parties do major policy changes because their base and floating voters that support them demand them because their quality of life depends on it. FF with Transport 21, Free Travel, the Disability Act, medical cards, free secondary, built most of Irelands social housing stock. Labour with free third level and a beginning of state provided childcare. What's SFs policies focused on? Housing and Welfare. Of course middle class people vote for those other parties because some of them can think about more than their own ass but by and large FG voters tend to be the better off least bothered slice whos "problems" are such that would make the rest of us laugh.

    What national problem has been solved since 2011 besides unemployment which is tied to the global economy anyway? Health, housing, debt, infrastructure it's all still there...why? because their base does not suffer from these things...and neither does Ross's. They lost the floating voters who went to them by default in 2011 because they were not sorting these other areas but they KEPT the better off voters because the money in their pocket is all they care about and that was better. I think if the Taoiseach was from FF or SF (shudder) or Greens or Labour he or she would have slapped Ross over the back of the head by now and said "look I know I need your support but ff sake get on top of your portfolio would you?". Leo does not because he's not worried, his voters don't care.

    So Leo can spend most of his time, since his base is not suffering from any of these policy areas, doing PR and photo ops, which is all he really does.

    Even with Metro...think about what they did there. Did they take the T21 plan and say "were finishing this!" NOPE. They slammed the brakes onto a plan that was already underway had it's plans and permissions, retooled it, and started the ENTIRE process all over again, then re announced it and presented the Metro as if it was their idea they'd just thought of, then illegally used govt money to do what amounted to party advertising to brag about it ...but what did doing this allow Leo to do? ANOTHER BIG PHOTO OP! WITH SHINY PICTURES! I think about those of us out there who would love to have his job, who think about all the good we could do with it and we get to watch him waste this amazing opportunity's depressing.

    Combine the two: a Taoiseach whos supporters are not affected by PT problems and a minister whos constituents are not affected by it and who is by nature, being an Indo, inclined to think only have a cocktail of inertia and nothing being done.

  • I think your wrong Ross focus isn't on local issues, its on his PR. If he does nothing, he can't get bad PR for doing something wrong.

    Leo isn't doesn't care about local issues, not because his local area doesn't have these issues, (D15 definitely does have these issues)
    But because he wants to be seen as a national politician, and therefore doesn't attach himself to local, or Dublin issues. At least not directly.

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  • The gas thing is that ross does have his hobby horses which are completely outside his brief, and not really subject to the issues of local politics. He was described (anonymously) by some of his own staff as being tremendously disinterested in his ministerial brief. One might like to think he's a guy who would take pride in doing the job well, but alas no.

    There are calls to give active travel a much greater share of the transport budget, but with this clown asleep at the wheel, I'll be surprised to see anything significant.

  • Ross lives in a world where he tweets how wonderful it is to get a bus which I'm going to hazard a guess doesn't be the norm, on a morning but not a commuting time for actual workers as it was around 10am when he was on saying how great it was.

    Also the bus he was on is the 44 which only runs 60 minutes service.

    He doesn't live in the real world at all.

    Don't be fooled either of him holding the can of Dutch gold at the front of the luas for the opening of the new extension.

  • The gas thing is that ross does have his hobby horses which are completely outside his brief, and not really subject to the issues of local politics. .......

    Chasing media attention seems to the common theme it seems. Probably has a book in the works

  • You said about the area represented by Shane Ross ....
    XPS_Zero wrote: »
    .....Another thing you must understand about these areas in the phenomenon of imaginary crime, they imagine themselves to have crime problems that don't actually exist - I know, but they do.

    Totally agree. Lots of older people buy papers like the Daily Mail and the Evening Herald and those rags are full of crime, it's the perennial topic that they can use to fill their pages when there's nothing else happening. So Shane Ross' constituents consume a daily diet of rampant crime. That's why he makes such a big deal out of the closure of Stepaside Garda Station. It's a scare story that feeds into his model - stoke up concern and show them that you are the man to solve the (non-existent) problem.

  • Minted, how and why he got into where he is ..... Mind boggling

    He was given that role to spare FG the blame for transport issues

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  • He's doing a job as poorly as Leo when he held the same post. Ross is sure to go places!

  • @XPS Zero, very interesting analysis thank you, especially re the hazard of Independents as Ministers. Had got so used to them being elected hadn't thought enough that having them as Ministers was such a new step. Agree less with your analysis re FG. Their support base has to include more than big farmers and people who can afford to send their children to fee-paying schools as there are very few of the former and very few of the latter outside of Dublin, whereas FG have seats in most constituencies - Tipperary being one exception having a lapsed FG instead! Think FG has to get some credit for steering out of the recession (by continuing FF policies) In saying that I'm not at all minimising the horrendous issues in housing, health etc but think its too simplistic to say just that the global upturn sorted us out.

  • . There are calls to give active travel a much greater share of the transport budget, but with this clown asleep at the wheel, I'll be surprised to see anything significant.

    Sadly I think you're right, his reply to Roisín Shortall's question last week re the 10% was dispiriting. He keeps trotting out the €110 million to 2021 as if it were going to spread like a magic carpet over Dub, Cork Limerick etc and morph into kilometres of segregated cycle infrastructure. The other figure he trots out, the €53 million for greenways is welcome but an investment, clearly tourism related on DTASS website & intended to generate revenue with local benefit a bonus rather than the prime purpose.

    Think there's an extra problem thoug., Evne if we had a better Minister who "gets" active travel would XPS-Zero's civil servants in DTASS have a clue re the nuts and bolts of whats needed? There s no cycling unit afaik. Stormont used to have one!

  • Has the politics Forum been closed or something?

  • DaCor wrote: »
    Has the politics Forum been closed or something?

    Nothing is more important to public transport than politics.

  • In my lifetime I can only think of one Minister for Transport who did anything and that was the late Seamus Brennan. He pushed the pro-public transport agenda when in opposition and was rewarded with the job when FF got into government.

    Go as far back into history as you like and you won't find any better; possibly the worst was Erskine Childers who presided over the closing down of much of the rail network with his buddy Todd "Protestant Solicitors" Andrews.

  • One of the worst ever was Ivor Callely. He was a junior minister in Transport and his speciality was publicity stunts which got him maximum media coverage. He put together several committees to advise him on various topics but some of the people who were involved said that their main function was to dream up events and announcements where he could hog the limelight. Substance counted for nothing, every event was an ego trip and nothing else.