Friday 9 December 2016

Ireland needs a leader who'll play hardball

Our next Taoiseach has to show the EU that Irish eyes aren't smiling any more and get tough on the debt issue, writes Anthony Cronin

Published 06/02/2011 | 05:00

The modern, highly disciplined political party, whose members are rarely consulted but required to vote like automata on every substantive issue, is an Irish invention.

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We owe it, as we owe much else, to the fertile political genius of Charles Stewart Parnell. The Irish Party under Parnell was, in Joseph Lee's words, "hammered and honed into a superb political instrument". In Britain and elsewhere, something like it soon replaced the loose confederations, largely composed of lackadaisical gentlemen, which had passed for political parties before its advent.

But there are signs that the Irish people have had enough of the party system. The polls predict a big surge in support for independents and if these are more than single-issue candidates, if they are genuinely independent-minded original thinkers who have some experience of the world and its affairs, then that is to be welcomed.

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