Tuesday 21 February 2017

Minority Government is in peril as Ireland now faces its own 'winter of discontent'

Published 08/09/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has a battle on his hands. Pic: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has a battle on his hands. Pic: Tom Burke

Take your pick from bus drivers, gardaí, secondary school teachers and, potentially, train drivers - there's a whole heap of industrial relations problems coming down the line for the Government. And there's a big question mark over whether it has the strength, and the bottle, to handle it.

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Comparisons with Britain's infamous Winter of Discontent of 1978/79 might seem over the top. The turmoil 38 years ago was on a different scale, with virtually the entire public sector up in arms as wages chased inflation. Corpses went unburied and bins piled up on the streets. But the political ramifications may not prove to be so different. Jim Callaghan's minority Labour government's re-election hopes were scuppered by those strikes. The belief it was out of touch, and had lost control of events, helped propel Margaret Thatcher to power.

Fine Gael and the Independents need to be very careful not to allow a similar perception to develop here.

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