'Leaders have failed to keep the people safe'
PAC chairman John McGuinness warns of emergence of a 'two-tier' Ireland, writes John Drennan
Published 15/12/2013 | 22:11
AS THE Coalition celebrates Ireland's exit from the bailout, one angry man has emerged to question the emperor's new clothes of post bailout Ireland.
Almost inevitably, that one, as distinct to 12 angry men, is the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), John McGuinness, who has warned that the escalation of a "two-tier Ireland" has been one of the dominant features of Ireland's economic emergency.
In a scathing attack on the ongoing inertia of all Irish political parties when it comes to reform, McGuinness also told the Sunday Independent that "a huge divide has emerged since 2011 between how the government of the State and the bureaucracy of the State are treated and the lives of ordinary citizens".
Ireland may have secured Home Rule from the Troika, but McGuinness believes "the new poverty that exists across the country is frightening; look at the amount of suicides that are occurring in our towns and villages, that is a staggering figure across the countryside".
The PAC chairman said that "we hear politicians talking all the time about reform, but such statistics show our political leaders have failed in their primary duty of keeping the people safe".
Instead, he claimed, "ordinary citizens are now afraid to get sick, to tell their neighbours they are in debt, they are afraid of the institutions of the State, that is not a life to live".
In language that the Fianna Fail leader will see as having a Reform Alliance stamp on it, McGuinness in particular charged the political class with "failing to create a new politics of hope, to comprehensively spell out how we might change the state of Ireland".
And he told politicians of all parties that "the citizens perceive their exclusion, they see a new political class and new order emerging, where we have a two-tier public and private sector economy".
McGuinness expressed particular concern about the escalating divide between urban and rural Ireland.
He noted a separation had developed where "rural Ireland is being trampled upon to the extent where all the citizens see is loneliness, isolation, crippling debt and the destruction of communities".
In a challenge to all politicians McGuinness warned that for "politics to succeed, [it] cannot trundle along as usual".
Instead, he said, "a political party to be strong must have a philosophy about the people and to the building of communities, that for me is the centre of everything politics should be about".