Wednesday 7 December 2016

The most significant budget since turn of the century

For the centre to thrive, pro-business social democracy must be developed, heralding this 'new politics' once and for all

Published 16/10/2016 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan makes his way to Government buildings in Dublin to deliver the Budget Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Finance Minister Michael Noonan makes his way to Government buildings in Dublin to deliver the Budget Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

'The centre must hold" was the mantra of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail from either side of the Dail on Budget day. The battle cry of the two old parties was met with disdain by those who remains intent to usher in a "new" order, the form of which remains ill-defined, other than to be rooted in the tried and failed ideologies of the far left, of the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party and an increasingly confused Sinn Fein.

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In Ireland we do not 'do' the far right, not since the Blueshirts were laughed out of town in the 1930s, with the emergence of a political system which, generally speaking, has stood this country in good stead since the foundation of the State. But elsewhere around the world the far right and far left have gained traction since the collapse of the system in the ugly form into which it had evolved by 2008, in the "new" form of what are called populists such as Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Marie le Pen and Jeremy Corbyn to name a few, but which are, in separate ways, echoes of a failed past.

For all the populist traction, however, the centre is holding, has held, although is fractured, as was evident here in the general election this year, with the emergence of a strong, though far from radical, Independent vote. That vote was centrist in nature, though, in a traditional sense.

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