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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: November 24, 2010 @ 6:35 pm

    New Think-Tank Launched

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    A new centre-right think-tank, the National Alliance, has proposed its own four-year economic plan to €12 billion without reducing welfare rates or raising the tax burden. The group is opposed to the Croke Park agreement on public sector pay and reform.

    Chaired by economist and broadcaster Marc Coleman, the group also proposes a reduction in the number of TDs to 100, introducing a list system based on the German model, creating a directly-elected Seanad and cutting the number of Local Authorities to eight.

    The general secretary of the National Alliance is former campaign director of Libertas, John McGuirk but the group also includes supporters of the Lisbon Treaty.

    Its four-year plan aims to reduce Ireland’s budget deficit to 3 per cent of GDP and restore balanced budgets by 2016.

    “We show in our plan how, under reasonable assumptions, €12 billion in savings can be made without hurting genuine welfare dependents, without raising the tax burden and without cutting frontline public sector jobs or cutting public salaries below €35,000 per annum,” Mr  Coleman said.

    The group opposes the Croke Park deal and believes the public pay bill should be cut by benchmarking public salaries in excess of the average industrial wage instead.

    It opposes cuts in basic welfare rates, calling instead for means-testing of welfare benefits. It also urges a programme of privatisation, and “sensitive” implementation of the McCarthy report.

    “Presenting credible alternatives is also healthy and necessary and although not a political party, the National Alliance aims to renew democracy by ensuring that, at the very least, an alternative vision is presented for debate,” Mr Coleman said.

    The National Alliance believes many of the McCarthy Report cost-savings “in fact represent false economies”.

    “Cuts in areas like the arts, sports and culture create a disproportionately negative impact both on the public mood and on three areas where Ireland has every right to be proud of its achievements.

    “The savings involved are small compared with the targets to be achieved and the most sensible course of action is protect these
    areas,” Mr Coleman said.

    Mr McGuirk said: “For a decade, Ireland has suffered from a lack of radicalism and an over-abundance of consensus. We are, sadly, reaping
    that whirlwind today.

    “The country that emerges from this crisis needs to be more flexible, more self-confident, and more assertive. The proposals we are putting
    forward today are a key first step.

    “I hope that the National Alliance will become a clarion voice for the values of self-determination, individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, and good governance.”

    • Ray D says:

      The Party or candidate that runs on a default on foreign debt ticket will get my vote. Such a party – new or old – could get a handsome majority from a thinking electorate. Time for payback.

    • Liam says:

      couldnt do any worse then the current lot of cuts and tax hikes, nothing I’ve seen of the current cuts will make the economy any more efficient. We’ll still have the same number of parasitical state organisations draining as much blood from the stone as they can.
      Didn’t Marc have a book called The Best Is Yet to Come???? he’d have been better off reading Atlas Shrugged ;-)

    • Bit contradictory to on the one hand have directly elected Senators while replacing the directly elected TDs with political appointees, which is what list systems involve.

    • Ben O says:


      Is the description of them as a “centre-right think-tank” slightly misleading. They may be centre-right economically, but, given the views of Mr. Quinn and Mr.McGuirk, I think most would regard them as being extremely socially conservative, verging on “Ultra” status.
      Given the course of the Libertas campaign, I’m sure we’ll see a tendency towards American Republican-style populism in campaigning, a few controversial outings in the media and then Mr. MrGuirk going down like the Hindenburg again.

    • Ben O says:

      And that is a seriously unfortunate name. Could they not have entered it into a search engine before launching? This is probably the most depressing thing about the “right” in Ireland. Centre right economics has many valid points to make, but its Irish adherents seem to be the essence of mediocrity. They read some Friedman, Rand and Hayek and then think all they have to do is constantly spout the same talking points. Entirely depressing.

    • sile says:

      The party or ‘alliance’ that makes demands for loan defaulting is just campaigning on a revenge ticket. There is no way of knowing how badly damgaged Ireland may become long term by effectively turning its back on the EU.

      The National Allicance is unexamined and with its centre right/right credentials established in its membership we should be wary of a group that suggests welfare should be only given to ‘genuine welfare dependents’ as if the majority of Irelands unemployed were having a gigantic laugh sitting at home watching oprah, instead of being terrified for their futures.

      They portend a race to the bottom and make few suggestions about how to actually stimulate the economy.
      less change , more of the same.

    • Why the title National Alliance by the way? Was it picked for any particular reason or just one plucked out of the air?

      We are in a dangerous climate right now, because of the stress the economic crisis is obviously causing to many, and where certain people are setting themselves up as unelected leaders and there are calls to change and or abandon our parliamentary democracy and government and opposition (Fintan O’Toole being an example in this weeks Irish Times).

      Thankfully in our young state we have never had an extreme right party rise to power nor a facist dictatorship. This is unlike many other European Countries. We take that fact and the good things achieved by our political system and our political institutions for granted at our peril. Our Oireachtas and those elected to it, have over our history contributed to bringing peace on this island in relation to both the Civil War and the conflict in Northern Ireland. Many progressive measures have been initiated by our political system and by political parties and politicians. Democracy is not perfect but its a damn sight better than demagoguery and fascism.

      Be weary of where some of these unelected would-be leaders might lead their flock to.

    • Jack Richards says:

      The cost of the bank bail out is the time bomb which will wreck the economy. The government is talking about an interest rate of 7%. This is CRAZY. Most commentators have failed to pick up on this. These terms must not be accepted under any circumstances. Why are you not discussing this?

    • Patrick Hennessy says:

      This type of innovative radical alternative Plans is what we need. There is just one political party in Dail Eireann allbeit divided out in different sub-groups …….FF,FG, Lab, Greens, etc

      Serious dramatic wide ranging political (and possibly even constitutional) change must be the subject on which the Irish vote in the soon to be general election. My vote is for radical reduction in number of TDs to about 80, a senate of about 30 nationally elected leaders as a serious counterweight (check and balance) power to the Dail (or else abolish the Senate).

      And I would agree with about 8/10 Local Authorities who would have teeth but work from strategies based on community empowerment, diversity, and social inclusiveness.

      All current political parties should be disbanded and asked to form new parties based around the new structures, accountabilities, etc. Political parties should each be asked to present their vision of an Ireland 2050 as well as the plan for the next term in Office. Parties should be forbidden from basing their philosophies on the finisihed past (civil war stuff etc). Politics and religion must be separated at all levels. Ther should be some form of affirmative action to ensure that the Government has members who represent minorities (disabled, unemployed, gay, atheists, immigrants, etc).

      Let us refuse to enter into an election on business as usual issues. If we do, we certainly die as a nation.


    • Mark says:

      Also, David Quinn, the columnist with the Indo, is involved pretty prominently with them.

    • Marc Coleman says:

      Dear All,

      To make clearer that we are a think tank rather than a political party – but also to distance ourselves from rather unsavoury groups with a similar name – the organisation has changed its name to the National Forum. We are – to answer the issue raised by Ben – a group that represents opinion from the centre to the right. So some people are centrist, some are centre right and some are “solidly” right wing. However we clearly exclude far right or racist viewpoints: Please refer to page 3 of our document which will be on our new website http://www.nationalforum.ie where it says clearly “We exclude those who are opposed to these core principles, or who hold racist or anti-Semitic viewpoints or have links with groups or individuals that hold such views.”

    • Mike D says:

      Deaglan says we need to be more flexible and assertive as a nation, in that case we should sell one our ports to the Russians for the cost of an economic bailout for a term of so many years and be assertive when the neutrals and NATO say we cant do this. We have already sold our country economically to Germany and France, why not Russia.

    • Just to add 8 local authorities would not be very local.

    • Ray D says:

      The ECB is a lender of last resort to banks. Its most recent last resort was to refuse to lend. It sets rates at 1%. But Ireland is being offered 6 to 7%. Riddle me that.

    • Paddy O says:

      @ 12 – Mike D
      I can see it now – Rosslare will become Rosslarovskgrad…!!

      So the National Alliance (already reconfiguring itself as the National Forum) is a think-tank rather than a political party democratically elected; and so the question arises what IQ would be required of any adherents who will form this collective body that would wish to take control of this country. For some reason the theme song from the animated cartoon “Pinky and the Brain” comes to mind – could be their national anthem:


    • Sean Mckevitt says:

      To Joanne Tuffy
      We already live under the rule of a dictatorship , just like most of the african countries where the poor cannot afford to feed themsleves , while Governmant minister’s and offical’s live in cloud cuckoo land with lavish wages , lavish expenses , ministrial cars , government jets etc , and there sole intension is to look after there friends,
      so tell me , whats the difference between the irish Gov and the Government of the Congo/sierre loena/ethiopa etc etc etc
      Answer is , ABSOLUTELY NOTHING

    • barbera says:

      Oh come on people get real – it’s Texas hold ’em against the big boys and the two Brians are playing a blinder and need some support so get your poker faces on and listen to the chorus:


    • Ray D says:

      The Yes campaigners said it would put us at the very heart of Europe. But, as the No campaigners warned, we are actually at the mercy of the European bureaucracy. 6.7% is a clear indication of that and a Mafia offer that we cannot accept.

    • Sean McKevitt,

      Apart from the fact that a fair few Ethiopians and Congelese people etc etc would beg to differ, be careful what you wish for. You have a responsibility to ensure that Ireland does not replace its democracy with a dictatorship by defending the power you have as a voter at the ballot box. Dictatorships are bad, even if apparently benign, and even if they are proposed by Fintan O’Toole.

      In a few weeks time you will have a vote in the General Election, you will be able to hold TDs and Ministers accountable at the ballot box both as individuals and as candidates of the parties they are members of. In many countries the power to hold the individual and not just the party accountable, is taken out of voters hands by list systems.

      In a few weeks time you will have a vote in which you can look at the parties and the candidates and distinguish them based on their ideas and ideology about how our economy and society should be organised. You will have the opportunity to choose right wing parties, candidates or even think thanks, and more of the same, or to vote for left wing parties, and candidateas and for change.

      Countries whose Governments have delivered social democracy and democratic socialist policies are doing better than Ireland in many important respects, including life expectancy,mental health and social solidarity, and you can actually vote for this to be the approach of the next Government, in how you cast your vote.

      Many voters that thoughtfully voted for centre/right, right parties at the last few elections, sincerely thinking it was for the best, have the wisdom of hindsight now and the opportunity to vote for change. You have that opportunity too.

      Would you have it otherwise and abdicate your responsibility to make a difference when you cast your vote at the ballot box? Because after all that has happened and at a time that you have the power to make a difference with your vote, at a very important juncture in our history, that would be a terrible irony.

    • Ray D says:

      So FG and labour think that 6% is ok but 6.7% isn’t.

      What planet do any of our politicians live on?

    • de profundis says:

      Don’t you think it important that your readers know the identity of Paddy O aka barbera/minXie/Catherine b or does she have immunity from moderation…?

    • Moderator says:

      Don’t you think it important that your readers know the identity of de profundis aka cockney rebel/ruby/A.lig8or and lots of others………………like anyone gives a hoot………

    • This is tiresome. I still have a suspicion that Moderator and De Profundis are one and the same. Give over, will yiz?

    • eoghan says:

      to Joanna tuffy
      I cannot remember too many complaints from the Labour Party when the unelected “social partners” (or anti-social parasites) were destroying the country. Perhaps while you’re at it, you will also promise us that the Labour Party will end the appointment of cronies to directorships of quangos and other state bodies, and that there will be a proper parliamentary vetting process for such appointments.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:


      Labour often complained about the Oireachtas being sidelined by decisions taken under the guise of social partnership. We believe in represenative democracy. In any case it was light touch regulation and fueling of the property and financial bubble through tax breaks and reckless planning that damaged the country.

      We have a record in trying to bring ethics into public life. It was Labour that introduced the Freedom of Information legislation, disclosure of donations, limits on donations.

      We have promised “Reform of the system of appointments to state boards to ensure that the process is
      transparent and that those appointed have the requisite knowledge and skills”

      For a summary of has a summary of Labour proposals on public and governmental reform:


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