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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 8, 2009 @ 9:50 am

    The League and the Championship

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The Budget is out but the political fallout continues. People on monthly salaries will see the effect in their pay-slips at the end of May. That will be just a week or less in advance of the local and European elections – and possibly the Dublin Central and Dublin South by-elections – on June 5th.

     cowenandlenihan.jpg

    The  Two Brians: heading for a fall?

    It might be argued that people should stand back and take the long view of the situation. The Government is in a difficult position trying to juggle the finances of the State. We enjoyed the good days but now it’s payback time.

    That kind of Solomon-like wisdom (others would call it naiveté) is rather thin on the ground. The more likely human reaction when people feel the sharp sting of income cuts in one form or another will be to strike out and take revenge on those who inflicted the pain.

    That’s where the would-be councillors and European representatives from FF and the Greens could well suffer. Are we looking at a massacre at the polls? Or will people take a more understanding view? Some will say that the Government got us into this mess with its policies over recent years and that Brian Cowen deserves particular punishment for his stewardship as Minister for Finance over several years.

    But do the local and European elections count in the longer term? FF didn’t do so well in 2004 but went on to win the general election in 2007. Is it like the league and the championship in GAA?

    • robespierre says:

      Part of the problem is the chronic lack of vision in government and among the opposition. For instance, abolishing employers’ PRSI (FG) is only an encouragement to lay staff off from one role, call it something else and then rehire in the new job at a lower cost. It is easy to do and the government could not implement safeguards that could be policed.

      There will be a reaction but look at the leaders – there is huge dissatisfaction with what is being put forward and the quality of leadership. There is no compelling vision being offered by anyone and we have the wrong people in the Dáil.

      We need at least a partial list system to get subject matter expertise into the Dáil and reduce the number of teachers and lawyers in the chamber. We have had two lawyers since McCreevy and they have been far from distinguished. I rarely agreed with McCreevy but he had a vision and could engineer his brief to deliver against it.

      I also believe he would not have allowed the HSE to spiral the way it did. I remember him saying that people are not twice as sick now (2002) as they were five years ago (1997) but the spending had doubled. He was then bundled off to Brussels. I am not advocating McCreevynomics but the dangerous consumer drive splurge did happen AFTER he left and once Cowen took over.

    • paul m says:

      “FF didn’t do so well in 2004 but went on to win the general election in 2007″

      Yes they got a slap on the hand in 2004 as a reminder from the voters as to who keeps them in their jobs, but they still retained a foot in the door. However on this occasion FF have stuffed their core support group as well, and with very little to promise voters we could witness one of the biggest whitewashes in local and european elections to date. I think Joan Burton hit the nail on the head when she asked Minister Lenihan would he be now canvassing the same post office dole queues he did so with FF promises, but this time with reminders of just what FF has handed out to them in the budget.

      12 years in power leaves you very few places to point the finger except at your own doorstep. And with so many grey areas in the budget ‘under review’ ‘waiting recommendations’ and ‘may be changed’ it’s clear to even the most blinkered of FF supporters that the party is very short of concrete proposals to warrant an ‘understanding view’.

    • The Dog Warden says:

      Over time, if the idea hasn’t hardened already, the electorate will see the heady excesses of the last decade as a Fianna Fail con. There is no road back for Cowen et al after yesterday.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      “For instance, abolishing employers’ PRSI (FG) is only an encouragement to lay staff off from one role, call it something else and then rehire in the new job at a lower cost. It is easy to do and the government could not implement safeguards that could be policed.”

      It’s not like that wouldn’t be hard to police after all as the company would supply the same PPS numbers to the revenue for the so-called new hire. Also, you can’t just lay people off, you have to make them redundant and pay them redundancy. If companies were looking to do that wouldn’t they simply look for a pay reduction instead?

    • Joanna Tuffy T.D. says:

      For a lighter take on the budget and in particular the “Green Fingerprints” all over it (according to Green Party T.D. Mary White) you can view Pat Rabbitte’s speech here:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxxHganG4Kg

    • Peter B says:

      It’s payback time – paying for the sins of FF (and PD) governments past. Oh, silly me, I forgot, they’re still in Government! Weren’t they re-elected by the ‘clever’ Irish people less than two years ago! Ah well, sure there you go!!

    • robespierre says:

      They would be different staff actually – it is a great way to lay off long-term staff. that is what a business case for outsourcing or shared services is based on.

      This is just another way of achieving the same end for transactional work.

    • Ray D says:

      Am I missing something? The banks can’t loan money. The Government gives them almost €8Bn that was meant for pensions and was taken off us for that purpose alone. The banks still can’t loan money. The fact is that the banks are using their profits to deal with the debts they have. Virtually all these debts are to the fat cats and others who were the only beneficiaries of the so-called Celtic Tiger.

      So the Government decides to liberate the banks by taking the debts off them and shoving these debts on to the public! That means that the loans that were used by the fat cats to buy trophy houses and mansions, fast cars, apartments abroad, etc. will now have to be met by the public.

      Are we mad – yes we are. All we had to do was to let the banks go bankrupt and put the €8 Bn into a State bank who would loan it out for investment. Those highflying bankers and their mates who borrowed from them could be let go to hell.

      But we cannot do anything about this nonsense. The Government have decided what to do without any reference to us or any mandate from us. If the Government do not put this Budget to the people in an immediate general election so as to try to get a mandate for this, then we, the people, should march on the Dáil and throw out the unelected Government by force.

    • john says:

      I agree with Ray D, let the bankers rot along with their Government mates who will now have to look elsewhere for seats on boards after their unsuccessful political careers.

      Repossess all the assets used for the loans to get something back and create a new toxic-free bank and get the ball rolling again.

      I missed the part in the budget where the tax-exile mates of the Government can come swanning into the country for the TD back-slapping functions and leave again without paying a cent in tax.

      One guy on the Late Late Show had a very good suggestion of hundreds of ordinary Joe Soaps investing their SSIAs into school development and getting a return later at a rate above what they will get back from the banks.

      Every dog and divil would benefit, I think it could come under the heading of social development. It would get hundreds off the dole and working. It would get rid of the prefabs and give proper classroom conditions to our future.

      I would have added car scrappage in the budget, i.e. scrap every over-priced Government Merc, where the f*** do they think they are, in the Bundesrepublik of Germany with a population of 70 million.

      You see there are still idiots out there who believe in the Soldiers of Destiny when they are just mercenaries who have lined their own pockets with ‘Benchmarking’.

    • The angry mob says:

      Local elections don’t matter in the bigger scheme of things, still it will be nice to think of aspiring FF gombeen-men getting abuse on the hustings! Budget measures are necessary and even more pain will be inflicted down the road but it reallys galls to see the same shower that wrecked the country now prescribing the medicine.
      While FF are totally culpable, FG would have done the same, remember before the last election FG’s big idea was to reform stamp duty (as called for by the Construction Industry Federation and auctioneers). As the property bubble was starting to run out of steam Kenny was proposing to blow more hot air into it!
      FG never sought to rock the rising property price boat. all the criticism of bench-marking and a bloated public sector pay bill tends to miss the point. Remember where it came from? Garda, nurses, teachers etc couldn’t afford what? Houses, rising house prices forced up the wage levels in the economy, wrecked our competitiveness and left us with our current massive public pay bill.
      Anyone remember the Bacon report? This was a serious attempt to curb rising property prices but after predictable lobbying by CIF and other vested interests it was left to rot. This should have been the basis of FG opposition to the FF/PD establishment. Alas, only the Greens came anywhere close to calling the whole property timebomb correctly but rather than being in a position to profit politically from this they will instead crash and burn alongside their least likely bed-fellows, FF/CIF.
      Oh well at least we might be witnessing a fundamental re-alignment of the Irish party system, just it’s hard to see how FG can make genuine long-lasting advantages, oh to have had Garret FitzGerald instead of Kenny these last five years!

    • robespierre says:

      You would be on sounder footing if you talked about how the Cosgrave government torpedoed the Kenny report. Bacon to paraphrase Seamus Mallon was Kenny learners so slow that we have come to where we find ourselves.

    • Ray D says:

      The Kenny Report was damned and destroyed by the Minority report within it. That raised the spectre of the Constitution and property rights. No Govt other than a radical left wing Govt would have tested that view (and hold a referendum) and we have never had a remotely left-wing Govt. That opportunity is there now however.

    • Miss T says:

      Why do we all have to suffer for other people’s error ? Our government is unfair, it promises what it cannot deliver during the election and now we all have to pay, for instance the Budget cutbacks, bad healthcare system etc..tell me what examples are teaching our children?

      Promise what you know for sure that you cannot deliver ?

    • Ray D says:

      Scary watching Bacon on Prime Time tonight. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

      This disgraceful episode will end in tears.

    • Chris says:

      Agree with Ray D…it will end in tears. Watching Bacon on Prime Time last night did not convince me about transparency. “X” is deleted from view…who are they kidding? This National Asset Management Ageney (NAMA) is ripe for political manipulation…business as usual…meanwhile a scalpel will be taken to health, education and social services…just when we need them most. The question must be asked, “Why did FF not invest during the boom in school buildings? Why the sheer waste in degradable portacabins? Peter Bacon talks about the cosy cronyism between bankers and builders but he conveniently forgot to continue the link to politicians! One well-known politican told me when we were asked to lobby him for a new school building, “My dear, there is no such thing as a free lunch”. He seemed to forget that it wasn’t free, we pay for it with tax. That tax was misused and spent on portacabins costing the Dept. of Education €90,0000 per annum for five years. That’s some free lunch alright…but not for taxpayers. I’ll bet that readers will be able to guess who that nugget of arrogance originated with. And the school building scandal is only one of many scandals. No investment either in our national psychiatric hospitals which are still Dickensian…need I go on? Who benchmarks failure?


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