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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 9, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

    How Long Will the New Government Last?

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    As today’s drama in the Dail plays itself out, one can’t help being reminded of the accession to power of Fianna Fail and Labour back in ’92. That was a government with a huge majority – from memory, there were 101 TDs between the two parties.

    At the time there was talk of “ten-year rule”, the naive assumption being that the Government would be re-elected after serving out its full five-year term. In the event, it was gone by November 1994.

    At this point in time (note the qualification), it looks like the current incoming administration will last a good deal longer than that. Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore are likely to get along a lot better than Albert Reynolds and Dick  Spring did in the end.  

    Reynolds made a perceptive remark when his tenure as Taoiseach, an office he had moved mountains to achieve, came to an end: “It’s the little things that trip you up.”

    I saw Mr Reynolds in the distance on my way into Leinster House this morning. His achievement in securing the IRA ceasefire was a major one, yet he was brought down by an obscure row, the details of which very few can now recall. As FF Deputy Sean Power, one of the few to stand by Reynolds to the end, remarked to me at the time: “He climbed a mountain and stumbled on a pebble.”

    Mercifully, this government does not have to cope with a security situation on a par the one that obtained in Reynolds’s time. But it has an economic nightmare to confront.

    It will very soon become evident whether or not the new coalition has the capacity to lead us out of our travails. If not, then the future will be very grim for all of us. People’s expectations are high and the motto for this government must be: “Seize the day.”

    • sonyKopines says:

      18 to 30 months. Ming the Merciless is a good speaker ain’t he? Like his sartorial style, Mick Wallace’s too. Doubt they’ll be enuf to effect a change to the Dead Zoo known as Irish politics but those two I wish well. Like I say, 18 to 30 months. Hope society lasts as long.

    • robespierre says:

      The country is in danger of becoming a gerontocracy of sorts. The outgoing administration with its cushioned payouts for life for people in their mid-forties like Mary Coughlan was so out of touch it was simply not experiencing the world in the same way as the ordinary people in work and struggling or out of work and sinking.

      The current incoming government looks like being similar if not older on average. Almost uniformly over 55, mostly male. The generation that made money off the generation that bought them.

      It makes no sense (other than stability) for Labour to go into government at the moment. The only reason they are doing so is that their party grandees only have one more shot at power this side of the free bus passes and they are more interested in that than they are in a permanent realignment of Irish politics. Bizarre but not surprising.

      Even if Brian Hayes or Leo Varadkar are included at the cabinet table, will the cabinet reflect the country? Look at the Tory administration next door – it has much greater representation of people from their 20s and 30s upwards.

      I am not necessarily advocating making someone a minister for justice at 24 (like Des O’Malley) but if they are bring enough and have the drive and are made wait because they haven’t done their time then this government will be NO DIFFERENT to the last. Same politics, same BS.

      Only people inured from the realities of the real world would think that time served rather than ability should be the reason for preferment.

    • sonyKopines says:

      As it happens I just read this 2 secs ago and after I’d filed my last two posts: http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/david-mcwilliams/david-mcwilliams-keep-an-eye-on-your-savings-you-can-be-sure-the-state-is-2571501.html (truth is I’m reading the Indo more and more since ye switched off the Breaking News bb and I’ve been bored on this site) so it seems David McWilliams might be of similar mind to me. Not for the first time. Of course he’s a qualified and respected commentator on weighty matters such as Ireland being destroyed by those who have betrayed Her to cowardice inhumanity and rapine. I’m not. But as it happens nobody listened to either of us. But there y’go at least we’ve all got passports and some of us no savings for the State to steal at all.

    • Liam says:

      I would very much hope that this new government tackles the major issues in national assets such as our natural resources. Hydrocarbons, forests and water, there is very little hope of us getting out of the economic tragedy unless we can effectively manage and hold on to our natural resources.
      Our constitution states that

      Article 10

      1. All natural resources, including the air and all forms of potential energy, within the jurisdiction of the Parliament and Government established by this Constitution and all royalties and franchises within that jurisdiction belong to the State subject to all estates and interests therein for the time being lawfully vested in any person or body.

      In my opinion the new government must investigate the authenticity of the hydrocarbon sell off to Shell and others. And we should have a referendum on the selling off of national assets. Enda Kenny recently said that he will implement a selloff of all non strategic national assets. He must confirm what he means by this and who is deciding what is and is not strategic.

      Ireland is endowed with immense natural resources and it is a testament to the incompetence of previous governments that we have not managed these effectively. Our hydrocarbons alone have been estimated to be worth at least 450 bln dollars and could worth up to 700 bln.

      Some people will argue that renationalising our hydrocarbons would damage our economy and deter foreign investment. I would say to them that 1) they can provide the funds to take us out of debt and give us energy security. 2) That this move would not really affect foreign investments as it is linked directly to our natural resources and political considerations.

    • Kynos aka John O'Driscoll says:

      Yeah congratulations to the incoming Taoiseach and his cabinet. Very nice ‘maiden’ speech Taoiseach. If I can suggest, Sir, that you might start the Augean task that confronts you by shutting one stable door even tho’ the horse has nearly bolted. US combat troops in the illegally immorally destroyed country of Iraq are to be pulled out very very soon; in fact most of the 50,000 remaining there are non-combat troops in training and support roles. Nonetheless, their presence remains an affront to decency and a stain on the karma of all countries – the US especially of course – but all countries involved in their being there, Ireland not least. They’re all slated to be gone by 31 December this year. Show some strength of a moral and decent kind, as I’m sure you are a moral and decent man, and close the stable door to cowardice inhumanity and rapine’s rule over this country, destroyed in so many ways as Ireland has been Herself by those who betrayed everything this country ever meant and stood for by allowing foreign despots like Bush to drag their slaves, whether wearing BDUs or orange jumpsuits and diapers, across the Holy Ground. I beseech you Taoiseach Kenny, stand up for Ireland and salvage some of the 800 year legacy of colonial/imperialist murder robbery and rape done to this country; salvage some of the empathy the Irish have long been feted for the world over thanks to the good works and compasion of numberless nameless selfless Irish men and women. Show some of the famous Irish compassion. Shut down that whore of a warport to foreign armies of invasion and occupation. Stop Ireland turning blind eyes to kidnap and torture. Stop warplanes and troops using Ireland as a transit point on their way to doing murder and robbery. Search the flying racks of ‘CIviliAn’ jets that haul the innocent and undefended to appalling fates via Irish soil, and cease to refuel them or in any way facilitate them. Do that, Mr Kenny, and whatever else you do you’ll have my admiration and thanks. Sure I know I’m just talking to myself on here. Perhaps I’ll write you a letter. Writing here never did any good. But somehow I just have and had to. Thank you Taoiseach. In advance. Best of luck in government.

    • sonykopines says:

      I’d suggest the motto for this and any government that wants to restore this country and not just line their own pockets should be, at least as far as that suppurating tumour down the bogs of Clare is concerned: ”Seize the torture jets and warbirds”.

    • Roisin says:

      Well now, I hope the slight delay in Enda and his team entering the Dail chamber today was a minor hiccup and not the start of the end.
      A Ministry for children?

    • Bellminx says:

      Are we soon to see an oil painting of the coalition twins Enda & Eamon in their birthday suits hanging in the National Gallery! The artist who executed Mr Cowen’s ‘portrait’ hails from Mayo — well whatdyaknow. No consideration whatsoever was given to Mr Cowen’s wife and children at that time by the media (especially RTE) or the opposition who feasted on the absolute bad taste of that venture. A global economic crisis struck during this time and it struck heavy; and during which time Fine Gael, Labour, and Sinn Fein, instead of being constructive (the new political buzz word) in terms of putting out the positive message for Ireland (enabling the government to “keep its powder dry” and not “show all their hand” while the most delicate negotiations were going on with the EU/IMF/ECB) they chose to attack the government at its most vulnerable time, thus creating an atmosphere of ridicule in this country which was easily picked up on by the Markets, in particular, and the rest of the world. Who knows what the outcome would have been if they had remained calm – and indeed patriotic. And now these people have the audacity to say that their primary purpose is to restore Ireland’s reputation abroad! Well forgive me if I’m not over the moon. On a personal level I have some liking for Enda Kenny and I thought his inauguration speech was excellent and very moving and I wish him and his family the very best but I cannot get over the feeling that almost everything that this new government has now got was stolen from Fianna Fáil – especially the Trojan work done by Brian Cowen and Brian Lenihan to negotiate the 4-year plan to ensure Ireland’s recovery. However, I have great faith in Micheál Martin’s abilities and some time in opposition is always good for a political party. I have some faith in Enda Kenny and some of his cabinet but I have no liking for Labour at all – and as for Ming & Mick et al, I wish some extraterrestrial force would just beam them all up to some unknown lunar regions.

    • Bellminx says:

      Well one good thing about fewer women in the Dáil now is that hopefully politicians’ expenses will decrease dramatically. What I mean is when Irish women get into the Dáil (which it seems they perceive to be some kind of fashion house) instantly they seem to undergo extensive makeovers, including hair and make-up (plastic surgery?), invest in buckets of expensive jewellery (albeit ersatz) not to mention the increasingly psychedelic-coloured designer ensembles with matching Jimmy Choos and accessory allsorts. In my opinion Irish women politicians haven’t a feckin’ clue about how to dress and should take a hint from their European counterparts – especially Angela Merkel who dresses practically and sensibly – and you just know this woman means business. The first Irish woman to enter the Dáil wearing something plain and practical and sporting a natural hairstyle will get my respect – which is not to say that Armani isn’t going to make a buck or two from the lads, given recent trends.

    • PT says:

      Deaglan,
      In retrospect, Labour made a huge error in bringing down the FF-Lab govt. They could have had ten or fifteen years in govt with FF but by opting to go with FG they found themselves out in 1997 and FF back in for 14 years. I suspect the lesson Labour learned is not to collapse this govt unless absolutely necessary. I wonder if FG know the same thing– I could imagine FG splitting from Labour on a matter of principle in 2 or 3 years either because they think they could win a snap election of to go into power with independents.


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