Monday 24 October 2016

Long road to recovery after kicking in the local elections

Published 09/07/2014 | 02:30

Finance spokesman Michael Noonan
Finance spokesman Michael Noonan

LET'S face the realities of political life. This process of government renewal and cabinet re-shuffle is about which of the two parties gets credit for good things which may happen between now and a general election due in spring 2016 at the latest.

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The Taoiseach and Tanaiste are not engaged in re-negotiation – what they are about is prioritisation, re-orientation and that great fall-back of all beleaguered politicians: the need to better communicate the message.

There is the hope that the current creditable level of job creation can continue. If Labour get their way and win at least a slice of the coveted Jobs and Enterprise portfolio, surely such a change will come with two big Fine Gael provisos attached.

First condition would be that the ever-smiling face of one Enda Kenny would continue to be visible at all job-creation announcements.

Second condition would be that there would be no Labour trickery about union recognition or industrial relations, if they are allowed near that side of things at all.

After job creation, there is also a hope that something can be done about easing the tax burden on people. If the current state of the national accounts holds good that could well be possible and there are those who argue that it could stimulate domestic demand and help economic recovery.

The Finance Minister Michael Noonan, normally the voice of caution and fiscal conservatism, has been bullish about the chances of some kind of improvement on the tax front.

Here again we are talking about who can claim credit as Labour Minister Joan Burton was scarcely declared as the new party leader last Friday before she was talking about easing the burden of working people.

For all the talk about new images, big ideas, changes and reforms – money and jobs remain central to the fate of this battered Coalition Government.

Coming back from the political kicking received in local elections seven weeks ago will be extremely difficult for both Fine Gael and Labour and some people in both parties fear it will not be possible.

But all hopes are pinned upon the belief that, when it comes to a general election, mainstream voters put their economic well-being first and foremost.

And despite the people's disillusionment with this government, they retain an abiding hope that things can get better.

If this Fine Gael-Labour coalition can put money back in people's pockets, and continue to get more people back to work, there is the prospect of election damage limitation – if not outright redemption.

Irish Independent

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