Sunday 25 September 2016

As the days pass, the need for a deal grows

Published 18/04/2016 | 02:30

Former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke
Former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn. Photo: Tom Burke

After 52 days, the political situation is - as former Labour leader Ruairi Quinn said yesterday - "very dangerous". Although he did not want to pre-empt any discussion or decision by his party about entering government, he obviously favours putting the country first. He's right that the party should support the formation of the next administration however it can.

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Unfortunately, not all of his colleagues think the same, as many former TDs made clear on RTÉ Radio's 'This Week' programme yesterday. They would prefer to regroup in opposition and try again next time.

But success in politics is about getting things done in government - and that's where Labour should be if it wants a realistic chance of influencing both the Programme for Government and the content of the next Budget.

Sadly, realism was not a characteristic displayed by many of the contributors to yesterday's discussions, and not just on the Labour side.

Fine Gael Minister Damien English was over-optimistic when he suggested that the issue of Labour's involvement in the next administration could be sorted out in a week. It will take much longer than that.

Such a decision should be accompanied by a change of leadership after Joan Burton's disastrous election performance.

Agreeing a Programme for Government will be difficult and a precursor to the tough budgetary battles ahead, especially if the new administration is reliant on Independents who have long shopping lists of local demands.

Fianna Fáil's Seán Fleming talked nonsense about a new style of budgetary committee agreeing 90pc of the Budget in advance, with the Department of Finance doing "tiny bits" at the end. He should be realistic enough to know that there is no chance of getting all-party agreement on the next Budget. We need a stable government and we need it now to start that budgetary process.

Irish Independent

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