Where did it all go wrong for Tom Parlon and his begging bowl for hard up developers? Sometimes when he reflects on the last decade he must wonder what would have happened if instead of running for the PD’s he accepted the 2002 offer from Fine Gael and had run for them instead. When he surveys the political landscape from the luxury executive suite in Construction House he must surely wish he was now a Fine Gael spokesperson and on the verge of power.
By any reckoning Tom has an remarkable political record, IFA President, Minister for Public Works and DG of the Construction Industry Federation.
Despite these achievements he has always conveyed the impression that he’s taken a lot for granted and put his head down and pushed on regardless of what anyone cares. Barely a minister he turned up to review the IFA tractorcade protest against his own government. He arrogantly proclaimed Laois Offaly as “Parlon Country”, used his position as Minister to appear in commercial endorsements and clumsily prolonged the electricians strike by calling the striking workers “lunatics.
One of his funniest gaffes occurred when he was Junior Minister to Charlie McCreevy at the time of the decentralistion. Parlon leaked the news that FAS was to be decentralised to his hometown of Birr as evidence of his delivery to his native county. “Defending” his junior minister against opposition attacks McCreevy’s put down of Parlon portrayed the man, now charged with shepherding the embattled construction industry out of recession, as a hapless clown alerting his supporters of budget speculation from a public house on the night before the budget.
About the same time he was one of the right wing hawks who was opposed to any intervention by the state in property; According to Tom in 2003; “any measure giving the State the power to control the value of private assets would have major negative ramifications for thousands of property owners". He added at the time that any notion that privately-held land would be transferred to the State because people are perceived to have "committed the sin of trying to make profit" was "ideology somewhere left of Stalin
So why is Tom now supporting NAMA? Particularly as this week Tom says that NAMA is not a builders bail out! He’s of the view that in time the country will see the builder and developer as more sinned against than sinning, to put it mildly. But its not the first time that Tom has played two sides of the same argument, When he was IFA boss he made sure that farmers were compensated more than adequately by government road building programmes. Costs escalated and cowboy companies like GAMA thrived and indeed prospered while Tom was a minister.
Tom is effectively a hired gun, he’ll lobby for whoever pays him most for whatever it takes. Everyone has there price, Tom’s is top of the range at shooting himself in the foot when shooting from the hip! Could the country afford him back in office? I hope not!