Wednesday 7 December 2016

A Lemass-style revival is needed

Published 16/12/2012 | 05:00

The challenge faced by this administration is best defined by the continuing relevance of the promise by Sean Lemass at the end of the dreadful Fifties to reinvigorate the dying Irish State. In a prosaic, but deeply felt, address, Lemass said: "Personally I believe that national progress of any kind depends largely on a revival of patriotism diverted towards constructive purposes which would be characterised by a combination of love of country, pride in its history, traditions and culture and a determination to add to its prestige and achievement."

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The betrayal of Lemass's republican ethic – essentially by Fianna Fail – means the current Government faces an equally comprehensive task in leading a great revival of national morale. Sadly, the events of recent weeks have left it fatally open to the charge that it has failed. Instead, the burlesque antics of Phil Hogan, the feather-headed bravado of Mr Kenny, the rising spirit of bitterness that exists between the Coalition partners and an increasingly palsied response to vested interest groups is actually corroding the spirit of the nation.

Before we become too consumed by the toxins of despair, it should be noted this administration has, as detailed by Pat Rabbitte, some modest achievements to its name. It has taken a State existing at the edge of chaos two years ago back to safer waters. Protecting basic social welfare rates, restoring sustainable public finances and, hopefully, saying goodbye to the troika are no mean feats. And they should be recognised – for that 'herd instinct' to embrace despair can be as dishonest as our susceptibility to the vice of irrational exuberance.

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