We need Kenny to make hard choices not more empty promises
Published 17/06/2011 | 05:00
The Government's fanfare to celebrate 100 days in office yesterday could have been the launch of the manifesto for re-election: no increases in income tax, no cuts in social welfare, additional measures to help families drowning in mortgage debt and a truly universal health care service.
After delivering his promises, the Taoiseach saw no irony in reaffirming his pledge to tell "the truth, no matter how painful or difficult that the truth might be".
After the public scolding of Transport Minister Leo Varadkar for addressing an inconvenient truth, Enda Kenny might also say if a stunt like threatening to burn Anglo and Irish Nationwide bondholders is honest politics.
The Finance Minister Michael Noonan's announcement to impose "substantial losses" on those bondholders came on the eve of yesterday's press conference at Government Buildings. And it caused a 10pc dip in the markets and a studied silence from the European Central Bank.
It was, of course, the Government that designated 100 days in office as a solemn Day of Accountability to trumpet its achievements.
The Government has fulfilled some of the extravagant promises each party made in the election campaign but not being Fianna Fail is its most enduring achievement.
And voters have declared an open-ended ceasefire on this Government simply because it is not Fianna Fail -- but hostilities are likely to resume after the next budget.
Ruairi Quinn shrewdly used the Government's honeymoon to roll back some of the outrageous promises made in the election campaign.
Others, such as "not a another red cent" to the banks and pledges to "burn the bondholders" have been fudged or explained away.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore takes every opportunity to rebrand the Fine Gael/Labour Party coalition as the National Government -- and the Taoiseach has been seduced to follow his lead.
Mr Kenny appeared to back the Labour Party's opposition to Richard Bruton's proposals to change weekend pay rates and Phil Hogan's plan for a household charge. When the Taoiseach undermines ministers from his own party to appease coalition partners over policies that are essential to breathe life back into the economy, it sends confusing signals.
Fine Gael's election manifesto nearly won it an overall majority but its leader, now the Taoiseach, appears more concerned with not upsetting his coalition partner than implementing his own party's policies.
And they have not yet laid out all of the cold, hard facts of life in 2011 and the even greater sacrifices everyone must make through the next three years.
Bad news and hard choices have to be made in the first 100 days in office rather than the "no increases in income tax, no cuts in social welfare" message delivered yesterday.