Rabbitte goes down memory lane, back to the abyss

We had begun to miss that cliff so often referred to by Gilmore

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte: wasn’t going to take any lectures on unfinished estates. Photograph: Frank Miller

Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte: wasn’t going to take any lectures on unfinished estates. Photograph: Frank Miller

Fri, Mar 22, 2013, 12:00

It is just over a year since the Tánaiste saved us all from tumbling into the sea.

It was touch and go at the time.

We still remember that breezy morning outside Government Buildings when Eamon and Enda stood shoulder to shoulder and reaffirmed their union, despite battling terrible money problems during their first 12 months together.

“Horrendous,” shuddered the Tánaiste when he thought about those difficult days.

Enda could scarcely bring himself to speak of them, so Eamon struggled out the words.

When Fine Gael and Labour tied the knot, “the country was on the edge of a cliff” with the “spirit of the people all but broken”. Eamon and Enda pulled us back from the edge of that cliff.

If only people knew how close they came to sliding into oblivion. Luckily, in the months that followed, Kenny and Gilmore were always on hand to remind them.

“It’s still windy,” cautioned the Tánaiste, in case this news might make certain individuals lose the run of themselves again.

For a while, Eamon couldn’t resist reminding us of our miraculous escape. But mercifully, over time, he eased off on the references.

We began to miss that cliff.

Yesterday in the Dáil, Pat Rabbitte brought us back to it.

He was filling in for his party leader during questions and getting a good going over from the Opposition about the property tax. How could the Labour Party contemplate such a measure, adding insult to injury by agreeing to slash the number of unfinished housing developments exempted from the tax?

He dismissed complaints from Fianna Fáil ’s Michael McGrath on the groundss that his party hasn’t a legacy to stand on. For starters, McGrath’s government “authored” the property tax and left the Coalition to implement it. Furthermore, Pat wasn’t going to take any lectures on unfinished estates “when the reason we have the unfinished estates is because of the chronic mismanagement that went on under the Fianna Fáil-led government”.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, back from her trip to America with Gerry Adams, also zoomed in on the unfinished ghost estates. Whereupon Minister Rabbitte retaliated by bringing up the substantial property tax paid by householders in Northern Ireland.

“What Deputy McDonald is concealing is her complete opposition to the property tax, which is remarkable, given that up the road there is a property tax in Newry three times as large as the property tax being introduced here. This kind of partitionist mentality on behalf of Sinn Féin is difficult to understand,” he needled.

Independent Mattie McGrath stuck with the property tax. “The people are bewildered and are becoming more so by the hour,” he declared, before attacking Labour’s “reckless and uncaring” attitude.

Nothing for Pat but to indulge in a spot of cliff rescue: “I don’t think people fully understood how grave the situation was when this Government took over. We were on the edge of the abyss. That is how serious it was,” he said.

Indeed, Mattie accepted the gravity of the situation back then, but it seems things have deteriorated since the Tánaiste pulled us back from the edge last year.

“We all accept that we must try get out of the abyss,” said a sombre Mattie.

Nobody contradicted him.

Who’s going to tell the Tánaiste?

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