Monday 24 October 2016

Beware the pitfalls of a giveaway Budget

Published 16/09/2015 | 02:30

Michael Noonan has finally won the freedom to make choices without someone breathing down his neck
Michael Noonan has finally won the freedom to make choices without someone breathing down his neck

It is hard to know whether we should man the lifeboats or break out the champagne, having being branded the ‘Comeback Kid’ by the prestigious European think-tank, the OECD. Bill Clinton had to survive a series of Bimbo eruptions, draft-dodging claims and marital infidelity claims to earn the accolade in 1992.

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Ireland Inc had to endure seven years of savage austerity, which should have taught us that prudence rather than profligacy must be the watchword.

While being generous in its praise, the OECD, with the calculated objectivity of the outsider, still casts a cold eye on the potential pitfalls which are all too worryingly familiar.

Property, that old bugbear that pitched us into the economic abyss during the crash, is over-heating once more.

Therefore it should not come as a complete shock to see the OECD counsel the Government to shy away from subsidies to first-time buyers, on the grounds that they would merely push prices higher.

It sees the potential for “another damaging property cycle” unless the Coalition avoids the obvious temptation of adding fuel to the fire, in an already red-hot sector.

Offering the electorate a piñata of populist measures may make sense from a strictly short-term, poll-topping perspective.

But taking the longer view, it could prove disastrous. A Budget that puts party gains above what is best for the public purse could reverse the hard yards won on the road to recovery. Giveaways will simply be absorbed and fed into prices, aggravating another property spiral, which will merely push the prospect of a property purchase further out of reach.

The OECD suggests that the money might be more wisely spent in developing the rental market.

Michael Noonan has finally won the freedom to make choices without someone breathing down his neck. But these choices must be informed by the mistakes of the past.

The concern is that the Canny Politician will always do what is best for the next election. We know this to our  enormous cost. Whereas the Statesman, as has been also been pointed out before, must do what’s best for the next generation.

Adams’s trust deficit over his IRA past

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams so often refers to the need for trust in order for representatives from different backgrounds to develop relationships and make progress. How exactly does Mr Adams expect those he deals with to react when he continually denies his involvement in the IRA?

With a serious face, he never has any hesitation in saying he was not a member of the Provos.

Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Mr Adams is stretching credulity in maintaining this stance.

The public view of Mr Adams’s claims was reflected in an opinion poll conducted by RTÉ, which showed that just 4pc of voters believed him. He said the 89pc of people who believed he was a member of the IRA were “absolutely” wrong. The survey asked whether it mattered if Mr Adams was a member of the IRA, and some 47pc of respondents said it didn’t.

Once again, trust has broken down in Northern Ireland, following allegations of IRA involvement in murder and criminality.

The continual denials from Sinn Féin of IRA activity are undermined when its leader won’t even admit he was ever a member of the organisation.

The people of Northern Ireland deserve to have a functioning government. Mr Adams can aid this process by building trust and stating the truth about his IRA past.

Online Editors

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