Friday 9 December 2016

Party interests still stand in the way of a new government

Published 23/03/2016 | 02:30

'I am fed up explaining why Ireland can’t have an obvious government coalition because our two main parties have their origins in our Civil War and because they field politicians with competing personal ambitions, perks and allowances.'
'I am fed up explaining why Ireland can’t have an obvious government coalition because our two main parties have their origins in our Civil War and because they field politicians with competing personal ambitions, perks and allowances.'

I went to Berlin last week and expected on my return to see progress made on a new government. But far from it: the shadow boxing continues and Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher sounds terrified by his own party's mandate and by having to take any responsibility. The 'cute hoor' dithering has become tiresome and, quite frankly, the resistance of Fianna Fáil to going into a coalition with Fine Gael is not only selfish and dangerous, but not at all in the national interest.

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While I was in Berlin, at an international political conference, I had to explain to curious inquirers about why we still have no government. Such a torturous process was well understood: my listeners come from political systems where often complex coalitions are assembled. However, such alliances are done on ideological grounds - or do not happen because of an ideological divide.

My foreign inquirers did not understand how a government could not be formed because the two parties are basically in consumer competition with each other - and nothing else. They were baffled, given both parties are centrist, either slightly to the right, or left, but very much centrist. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are both national movements, and effectively the same. And despite the growing international issues, with a terror and refugee crisis in Europe and a Brexit possibility looming, these two main parties still cannot create a government - because they have to preserve their own identities, party jobs, perks and local allegiances.

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