Ministers are making encouraging noises about the Irish economy and the government has ended the infamous bank guarantee which landed the Irish tax payers with a bill of 64 billion euro to shore up the country’s ‘casino’ banking system.
But the state of the economy is so powerless that the Croke Park agreement between employers and employees in both the private and public sectors is being re-negotiated to the detriment of the unions and the public are looking down the twin barrels of a property tax in the summer and another scarifying budget in the winter.
Cuts and levies have bitten so deeply that lower paid Civil Servants who have had their pay cut have had to be granted Family Income Supplement from the same exchequer.
It is economics Irish style. But what they are not getting is an explanation as to how all these imposts became necessary or any indication that the government is treating both the weak and the strong with fairness and equity.
Kathleen Ní Houlihan needs a perp's walk. If the Government didn’t share my views on the need to make people accountable for what was done to our people and our economy under Fianna Fáil, I’d say the opinion poll results which came out recently went far to changing their minds. There have been some mutterings from the government benches about the need to hold enquiries by way of Dáil committees but nothing conclusive has emerged.
Enda Kenny’s humanity displayed in his reaction to the Magdalene Women report may alter the position but the fact remains that the poll showed Fianna Fáil overhauling Fine Gael! This is the party which gave us an epidemic of suicide because of their marriage made in hell with corrupt financiers, builders, bankers and civil servants. When I say party I mean its leadership of course and those who went along to get along not the ordinary Fianna Fáil supporter who comes from the same stock as Fine Gael and shares the same hopes and aspirations.
The poll does not reflect any appreciation of the efforts of Enda Kenny and some of his team to act with decency and dispatch to clear up the foul mess which Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen left behind them, but it does reflect the dangers and the depth of the grave which the Fine Gael led coalition with Labour are digging for themselves. There’s an eerie sense of history repeating itself.
Fine Gael is the lineal descendent of Cumann na nGael which established the Irish Free state,thereby creating the democratic sovereignty which Fianna Fáil have handed over to the IMF and the money lenders of Brussels.
Cumann na nGael successfully fought a civil war and managed to repair the destruction of that war and of the Black and Tan war, out of an Exchequer bereft of British subventions and suffering from the effects of horrific emigration and unemployment. The party also established an unarmed police force, a corruption free Civil service and through the most Draconian cuts and economies somehow managed to balance the books and avoid the ever pressing danger of having the British treasury pulling the rug from under the Irish pound.
Alas these were not the kind of successes which appealed to an electorate, what impacted on the public were cuts like the docking of a shilling a week off the blind pension. If one were to add to today’s economy, factors such as the church led opposition to the proposed abortion referendum and the militant resistance of the Garda to cuts in their emoluments then, one could be back in the period of the 1930s before DeValera won his first election and a spell in power which was to last for an unbroken 16 years.
The government has had a notable triumph in its securing of a deal over the Promissory Notes issue to pay Anglo Irish Bank bondholders, but like the triumphs of Enda Kenny’s predecessor, W.T. Cosgrave, such triumphs have difficulty in eliciting a resonance from the man in the street.
The Government needs to drop the excuse that the vacancies for forensic accountants and for lawyers which are crippling the fraud squad’s efforts to combat white collar crime cannot be filled because of the embargo on public service recruitment and fill these vital posts.
It really is a crime that the white collar criminals who created the need for the embargo should be walking free smirking all the way to the banks which the tax payer is forced to subsidise as they cash in their monstrously unjust and plain monstrous pay offs and pensions.
It would be an excellent political balancing act if the Government were to make up for the fraud squad expenditures by fulfilling their election promises to cut down on the army of county councillors (some 1600 in all) who supply what is laughing known as ‘local government’ at the taxpayer’s expense.
Further meritorious balancing would be achieved by honouring pre-election promises by abolishing the Seanad which is nothing more than a talking shop wherein are provided jobs for the boys and by cutting down the number of T.D.s in the Dáil.
There are currently 166 of these, we could well do with a hundred but the Government is planning to cut only 8, thereby (understandably) furthering the perception that cuts are for the public not the politicians.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned