Politics and a national emergency

 

Sir, – Now is not the time for a national government. Now is not the time for a new multi-year coalition government. Both of these options would take too long to establish properly. Our senior politicians have more important tasks in the weeks ahead than wrangling over the detail of policy priorities and objectives to be achieved between now and 2024. Time is not on our side.

Given the current composition of the Dáil, and given the constitutional context, I believe the following should occur over the next 10 days. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael should form a nine-month minority government with agreed “Tallaght-strategy” support from the Labour Party and the Social Democrats. The latter two parties, while remaining in opposition, would agree not to collapse the new government until Christmas – hopefully after the end of this crisis and the passing of an agreed post-Covid budget and finance act. In return, each of those parties would be allocated two of the new taoiseach’s Seanad seats.

A one-page programme for government should be agreed. It would commit to managing the current crisis, continuing all-party consultation on its management, negotiating and implementing a post-crisis recovery package, and a commitment that the taoiseach would resign from office just before Christmas to facilitate the formation of a new multi-year coalition government (of whatever composition).

Fine Gael would retain the roles of taoiseach and minister for health, Fianna Fáil would get the tánaiste and finance post and the other positions can be divided up over a short socially distant conversation between both leaders. Each government party would get three Seanad nominees, with an agreed Independent appointed to the other vacancy.

Some immediate political stability is important for the period ahead. – Yours, etc,

Dr MICHEÁL COLLINS,

Assistant Professor

of Social Policy,

University College Dublin,

Belfield, Dublin 4.

Sir, –With all the justified appreciation of the healthcare system, retail workers and all those playing such a magnificent part in this crisis, there is one group I have not heard applauded.

That group is our Government. I think its members have been playing a blinder. Working day and night and doing all they can to anticipate and facilitate the present situation.

I for one feel safer and reassured to have Leo Varadkar at the helm, ably supported by Simon Harris and Simon Coveney and the rest of the team. Bravo and thank you.

It is also pleasant to have a break from the generally fractious voices of those in Opposition, so a bravo and thank you to all too for rowing with the captain and crew as we navigate these uncharted waters.

This Irish citizen is extremely grateful and proud of you all.– Yours, etc,

CAROLINE SWEETMAN

STEPHENSON,

Leixlip,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil seem determined to continue government formation talks regardless of the refusal of others to take part in discussions. One way of resolving this is for the Green Party to offer six months of unconditional support to a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil government.

This would let a government get on with managing the present situation and postpone talks to a more appropriate time. – Yours, etc,

DAVID DOYLE,

Goatstown,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – As a regular Green voter, can I just ask what on earth is the Green Party playing at? Why is it not joining Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and forming a stable government? The country is facing its biggest crisis since the second World War and the Greens ignore the national call to unite and respond by playing political games.

Even looking past this, from a sense of political self-interest alone, the decision-making is bizarre. The Dáil arithmetic gives the Greens a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really call the shots and set down Irish environmental policy for a generation. Why miss this opportunity?

Sinn Féin does not even favour carbon taxes, so it is hard to see how going into government in a possible Sinn Féin-led coalition will give the Greens better terms in the future.

Eamon Ryan and his colleagues may think that they can grow the party in opposition instead but they should be wary of this attitude.

First, there is no guarantee that the overspill votes that so benefited them last time will still be there if Sinn Féin and the left run more candidates next time. Second, a lot of voters, including myself, will be gravely disappointed by their foolish behaviour and think twice about ever voting for the Greens again. – Yours, etc,

JOHN COTTER,

Ferrybank,

Waterford.