Wednesday 7 December 2016

Austerity will be fatal for all of us

Published 25/08/2013 | 05:00

TWO-and-a-half years ago, on February 25, 2011, Labour was basking in its greatest electoral victory. It is a measure of how the political world has changed since that few will argue with the warning by Labour Senator John Kelly that continuing with the politics of austerity will 'kill the Labour party'. We will qualify our praise by noting the senator was only half right, for austerity – both in economics and the timorous, parsimonious spirit afflicting the current administration – is killing us all. Labour is just the most high-profile casualty.

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Recognition of the damage being done by the great Fine Gael-led austerity gamble is, alas, scant within a Government where Enda Kenny now rules party, cabinet and coalition partners with an iron hand. Despite his current position of strategic strength, the Taoiseach would be wise to realise that his political position is equivocal. Mr Kenny may, behind the safety of the high walls of the Dail, be a Don Corleone. But amidst the citizenry Mr Kenny is, to put it at its kindest, seen to be more of a Don Quixote.

The most critical failure of this administration is its ongoing inability to regenerate the morale of its citizens. If there was something of manic elation surrounding the mood that drove the economics of the Celtic Tiger, the Irish patient has now swung towards the opposite end of the scale. This process of healing the fractured Irish psyche has not in this regard been aided by the hesitant progress of Enda Kenny's much heralded, now vanished 'democratic revolution'. The electorate's judgement on Fianna Fail in 2011 was that, having been misgoverned for a long time, often with our own connivance, it was time we devised a better way of doing things. Instead, in yet another example of the endemic capacity of this Government to confuse style with substance, when it comes to the better way, all this administration can come up with is a bun-fight over the political dead school of the Seanad.

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