Saturday 24 June 2017

Coalition's sea of troubles swelling

THE uncertain performance of the Coalition throughout 2012 means it is not surprising that in today's Sunday Independent a Millward Brown nationwide opinion poll shows 50 per cent of the public believe there is a need for a new political party. Such a verdict represents an escalating loss of faith in the bona fides of the Government's promise to implement a "democratic revolution". For this to be restored, citizens believe the administration should now start to get tough on the troika, and tougher still on the causes of the troika being here. They should be listened to.

In fairness, any critique of the Coalition should recognise that they have had to take arms against an unprecedented "sea of troubles" for two years now. And the untimely death of the diligent and respected minister Shane McEntee serves to remind us that this is a hard-working administration that treats its duty of care to the citizens more seriously than some of its more jovial predecessors. But, too often, this Government has appeared to be genuinely un-nerved by the problems it faces and has resorted like Shakespeare's "sweet Prince" to the vice of procrastination. One exception to this occurred in the wake of the Catholic bishop's extraordinary "culture of death" demarche last week. Although the uncouth nature of the bishop's statement carried echoes of the Orange Order's infamous "here we stand, we can do no other" stance in Drumcree, Pat Rabbitte was correct to send the clear message to the bishops that the era of Taoisigh taking cosy phone calls from All Hallows is over.

Sadly, for the Coalition, signs are scant that its "sea of troubles" will recede next year. Although legislating for abortion will be its noisiest problem, ultimately the property tax will provide the Coalition with its sternest test. An Englishman's home may be his castle, but in Ireland home ownership has become a fiscal noose. Much of the opposition to the new property tax is undoubtedly informed by baser political motives than are immediately obvious. But only a government utterly detached from reality can believe that, in an economy burdened by the consequences of a housing crash, mass unemployment and record levels of personal debt, a property tax can work. Were it linked to local government reform, a case for the tax could be advocated. Instead, like a timeshare salesman, the Government is asking for cash up front before we see the mortgage deeds of reform. Such a policy simply will not do, Mr Kenny.

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