Wednesday, April 04, 2007


Words on Wednesday...with Tony Gregory TD

Welcome to this week's edition of Words on Wednesday here on United Irelander, a concept unique to the Irish blogosphere, which sees me interview various figures from all walks of political life.

Continuing the General Election theme here on UI, taking my questions this week is Independent TD for Dublin Central Tony Gregory.

My thanks to Mr Gregory for taking my questions at what must be a busy time for him. With that out of the way let's begin...

What initially attracted you to political life?

Social inequality in Ireland.

You are an Independent TD for Dublin Central. What would be a typical day in your life?

It really would take a couple of pages to answer this. Ask my secretary!

If you could change three things about Irish society what would you change and why?

The 2 tier system in (i) Education (ii) Health. The tax system to create greater equity.

What are your thoughts on a United Ireland?

That it is now less achieveable in the short-term.

Crime seems to be much more of a problem now in Dublin than ever before. Should Michael McDowell be held accountable for this growth in criminal activity?

Successive governments should be held accountable including Mr. McDowell.

Another major issue in the country right now is the current health crisis. What do you think needs to be done to help matters?

End the 2 tier system. Access should be based on medical need alone.

With regards to the upcoming election here in the Republic, how significant do you think Independents like yourself will be in the shaping of the next government?

Politics is a numbers game so it depends on the way the numbers stack up. It's a crystal ball question.

Another important vote to be taken this year relates to the proposed referendum which will seek to put the rights of children into the Constitution. Your thoughts on that?

Will it contribute to cherishing all the children of the nation equally - I doubt it.

Back in the 1982 General Election you gained much attention through the so-called "Gregory Deal" in which you backed Fianna Fáil's Charles Haughey in return for funds for your constituency. What was going through your mind at that time?

How best to use the situation to reverse the neglect of decades in the north-inner city and other similarly disadvantaged areas.

How do you think history will judge Charles Haughey?

I'll leave that where it belongs - with the historians.

With regards to the North of Ireland, what needs to be done to improve the situation there?

Britain must declare its long-term/short-term intention to get out.

You yourself are a former secondary school teacher. What is your take on the way Irish should be taught in secondary schools?

Much greater emphasis on the spoken language and its cultural value.

To return once more to the forthcoming election, opinion polls seem to suggest that the Irish public aren't sure about the alternative offered by Enda Kenny and Pat Rabbitte. Do you feel this country would benefit from stronger opposition parties?

Labour and Fine Gael should amalgamate into a Social Democratic Party since that's what they both are. The left should form a new Party.

From talking to your constituents, what are you finding their biggest concerns to be?

Health, Crime, House Prices, Education - care of the elderly, environmental issues, youth facilities - the list is endless.

Where should Ireland be twenty years from now?

Should be a united, more socially equal society - but unlikely.

Would you care to make a prediction on how the Election will go this summer?


What does the future hold in store for you?

That's in the hands of the people in Dublin Central.

Finally I'd like to play a small round of word association. I'm sure you know what it entails. Basically just outline what word comes into your head when you hear the following:

Bertie Ahern - Chancer
Tony Blair - Phoney
Ian Paisley - Sack-cloth and ashes
Gerry Adams - Steak Knife
Michael McDowell - Failure
United Ireland - Disenchantment
Fianna Fáil - Chancers
Fine Gael - Anachronism
Hung Dáil - Independents
Tony Gregory - Independent

Best of luck to Tony in his bid to retain his Dublin Central seat.

Stay tuned to United Irelander for future interviews. Previous interviews can be found here.


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