Fintan O'Toole: Crisis management is what the State does best

Immense task of reconstruction will demand much more than frantic improvisation

 The LÉ Samuel Beckett moored   on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to help in the fight against Covid-19.  The State, mostly so sluggish during the lifetime of the outgoing Government, has reacted like the crew of a becalmed vessel, snoozing down below, to the order: all hands on deck! It has switched itself on with remarkable alacrity. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

The LÉ Samuel Beckett moored on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay to help in the fight against Covid-19. The State, mostly so sluggish during the lifetime of the outgoing Government, has reacted like the crew of a becalmed vessel, snoozing down below, to the order: all hands on deck! It has switched itself on with remarkable alacrity. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Many times, in writing about the failures of the State, I’ve used some version of this line: “we don’t have governments, just a perpetual crisis-management agency”. Or “the State is not really a stable system – it is just a permanent state of crisis management, a perpetual-motion fire engine always rushing from blaze to blaze.”

Well, we’re glad of the fire-engines now. We have reason to be very grateful that the Irish system of governance tends to come into its own when, as Captain Boyle puts it in Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, “Th’ whole worl’s in a terrible state o’ chassis”.

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