The resignation of Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore will see the departure of a decent man and astute politician from the political scene.
Unlike many of his predecessors, Gilmore effected few airs and graces and was always available.
He gave a high priority to immigration reform, and met with Irish American community leaders several times on the issue of the undocumented here. His interest and commitment was very welcome.
In the end, the prevailing political currents in Ireland, like elsewhere in Europe, carry a deep suspicion of the entire European experiment after the economic upheaval of recent times.
The election of so many Eurosceptic Sinn Fein members is a clear indication of where the electorate stands.
As a peripheral country Ireland was always likely to have its priorities ignored in any major crisis, and there is no doubt that is what occurred when the meltdown began.
Ireland was given no other option other than to lash the weight of the massive repayments due by the banking system to the backs of their taxpayers.
Inevitably that led to further hardship as the government taxed and cut in classic deficit slashing, mode even though there is hugely significant evidence that stimulus as opposed to cutting back should have been the preferred path.
Ireland has also never tackled its massive social entitlement programs which make it almost preferable not to work than to actually go get a job.
The nanny state is alive and well in the country, and its cost to the taxpayer is immense.
The dignity of work and the ability to go every day to a job is a fundamental underpinning of any society.
Yet the widespread political correctness in Europe and elsewhere is to discourage such personal initiative and become dependent on hand-outs instead.
That is devastating and creates a climate of dependency which is very evident in Ireland.
Such issues are rarely discussed, being considered off the table by the politically correct mafia that dominates in the media and elsewhere.
A root and branch examination of the Irish economy has to tackle the spectacle of the cozy elite scratching each other’s backs such as in the banking, legal, business and political spheres (remember the “light touch” regulation mantra during the Celtic Tiger?), but also the massive entitlement programs which have sprung up.
Whoever takes over from Gilmore as Labor Party leader will focus on the rich part of the equation, but true political courage would demand that all sacred cows be examined and slaughtered where necessary.
True, Ireland has gone from a basket case to an underperforming (see massive emigration) but recovering economy.
The loss of sovereignty to Europe has greatly hindered Ireland’s efforts to recover from the current recession, as so many ideas are out of their hands.
The Irish electorate has spoken, and a decent man such as Gilmore has paid the price of making the Europeans the masters of the Irish economy.
Whoever succeeds him will have few if any options other than to hang on for dear life and hope the economic momentum grows.
That is the equivalent of whistling past the graveyard. It may inject some false note of confidence, but it does not address the real issue.