FREE KIC - NO. 8 MAY 06

Why Did Colm O'Gorman decide to join the P.D.s?

When Colm O’Gorman announced that he was joining the PDs I happened to mention to a friend of mine that I was delighted. I am about to move to Wexford and I had thought that I was going to find it difficult to know who to vote for in the next election. I told my friend that I would most likely be voting for Colm. I was surprised at my friends’ reaction. He gave the impression that he felt Colm was using his celebrity status as a political tool and that he was unlikely to have conviction on a range of issues beyond his own area of expertise.

Last Thursday week while having a drink with a different group of friends the conversation moved on to the same subject. It became clear from the tone of the discussion that some of my friends think that Colm should not join a party that in their minds is so right wing.

I found these discussions fascinating for a number of reasons.

  • Colm is from Wexford and we went to the same school (even though we don’t know each other)
  • He came to prominence through his work as a spokesperson for the charity One in Four. His involvement with this charity can be directly linked back to the abuse he had suffered at the hands of a priest from our school. That priest had set up a youth club that I was a member of.
  • Colm always spoke with passion and integrity, two characteristics that I admire.
  • I am about to move back to Wexford so I will be voting in that constituency in the next election.
  • In the last few elections I have lived in the Dublin South Constituency and I have voted for Liz O’Donnell of the PDs because I believe that she is closest to my own views on many issues.
  • I even went as far as joining the party after she made it clear that she believed that it was wrong when Ireland did not live up to its commitment to give 0.7% of GNP to third world aid. (I have only ever attended one party meeting where I spoke to Liz for a couple of minutes)
I have never told my friends that I joined the party. In my own mind I was not sure if I had done the right thing.

I am aware of the reasons why my friends think that the PDs are too radical. In particular the PD media image seems to be mainly created by the personality of Michael McDowell. The majority of people seem to think that he is arrogant and that this represents the typical PD. The consensus view believes that they are a party for the rich, that they only care about economics and they do not have well developed policies in the area of social justice.

As I am still on the PD mailing list I received notification that Colm was going to speak at a meeting in the Green Isle Hotel and he was going to talk about why he had joined the PDs. Naturally enough I went along because I wanted to find out if my friends were right about this group of right wing fascists!!

Colm spoke for at least an hour and he spoke with the same conviction that had made me respect him right from the first time I had heard him speak.

What amused me most was his own admission that he never thought that the PDs would be a natural home for him. He had been inclined towards Labour and it was only after much soul searching that he decided that he could be a PD. I think that most people who know me would also think that the PDs are not a natural home for me. It is therefore useful for me to hear Colm describe the journey that led him to the PDs because he had access to the higher echelons of the party. I had been afraid that Liz O’Donnell did not reflect the average PD. As Sam Smyth said to Colm on the Sunday Supplement show “so you are on the Liz O’Donnell wing of the party”. I had been afraid that the media image was the truth.

Colm made some interesting points. He said that he is convinced that the party is all about “what works”. In other words a low tax economy works better than a high tax economy therefore the PDs believe in a low tax regime. They do not believe in it just because it will make the fat cats richer.

He said that he believes that the party is all about “common sense” policies. If you don’t know the PD policy on a certain issue try to think of the common sense answer and you won’t be too far wrong.

He said that the whole idea of private hospitals next to public hospitals was all about reversing the historic situation of the public sector subsidising private patients. In other words he believes that the PD policy is not solely about privatising health. He believes that it is about improving the total health service, in both public and private. Personally I would like to hear more about this particular policy because it is an incredibly tricky and emotive issue and I am not 100% sure that I understand how these private hospitals will help public patients. I get the impression that Colm believes that it will work better than the current system and therefore we should try it.

Colm is convinced that the media is wrong in portraying the party as not believing in social justice. He believes that this is central to his reason for joining the party.

After Colm finished his talk there was a question and answer session. What delighted me most was that the majority of speakers seem to be equally perplexed by this media image. They seem to be just as committed to social justice as Colm. They were at pains to back up Colm in his view that this is central to the party. One particularly impressive speaker talked about his own belief that the party was all about integrity. This was music to my ears.

I hope I am right in the impressions I have come away with because I came away from the meeting thinking that I might even decide to help Colm in his election campaign. (Colm said that he was going to canvas all over the constituency, even in areas where you would not expect to find a PD voter. So Colm I look forward to being with you on your first canvas in Corish Park, Kennedy Park, Liam Mellows, Wolfe Tone and Maudlintown…….watch out Brendan Howlin)

You may ask yourself what this opinion piece is doing on a website dedicated to investment. I believe that investment returns are helped by the macro economic policies followed by a particular government. In my opinion a dynamic economy that believes in social justice will be a good place to invest. As more and more countries appear to be following this path it makes me increasingly believe that investment returns might be reasonably good in the coming years.

Finally I want to say that I hope this opinion piece does not turn away any clients or potential clients who are supporters of any other political party!!!!!!!!!


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