News John Downing

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Coalition bids to get grip of bad news cycle

Published 01/05/2014 | 02:30

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THE posh wording is 'changing the narrative'.

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After four months of Alan Shatter's travails about Garda controversies and internal rows about water charges, this government badly needs to show that it's back in control.

Government TDs and senators also fear that the final outcome of the Anglo Irish Bank trial may not help their parties' already embattled candidates in the local and European Parliament elections now just over three weeks away.

So, the announcement of action – at long last – on the promised banking inquiry has come as a godsend. It is an effort to show control and leadership while also speaking to the issue of the continuing legacy of the banks.

Both Fine Gael and Labour insist that delays on the promised parliamentary inquiry are beyond their control. Firstly, the voters rejected a referendum in October 2011 which would have given TDs and senators extra powers to investigate issues effectively.

A special law, the Oireachtas Inquiries Act, put through last September, will now form the backdrop of the upcoming inquiry.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin argues that a good deal of behind the scenes work has already been done and things can move relatively swiftly.

The appointment of inquiry chairman, Deputy Ciaran Lynch of Labour, is not of itself contentious as he is seen as a skilled committee room operator. The opposition will carp about the lack of consultation and behind the scenes government control. But the die is now cast.

Fianna Fail has grounds to fear that the process could degenerate into 'a bash FF' exercise ahead of the next general election. But both Fine Gael and Labour will also know that such an exercise could rebound on them. They should learn to tread more carefully here.

Irish Independent

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