Monday 26 September 2016

Does this deal really depart from old ways?

Published 05/05/2016 | 02:30

Party leaders Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny Photo: Barbara Lindberg
Party leaders Micheal Martin and Enda Kenny Photo: Barbara Lindberg

The notion that politics is a battle of competing interests masquerading as a contest of principles is very much in evidence in the plan hatched between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to put a government together.

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There has been much talk of 'new politics', but for something to be new, the old must first be cast aside - and the agreement bears the paw-marks of much good old- fashioned pandering to cheap populism. But at what price?

Both parties have softened the harder edges of previous commitments: thus Fine Gael will not abolish the USC entirely, while the details on what precisely will be done on Irish Water are as murky as ever.

Compromise is well and good providing values are not undermined, and the jury is very much out on whether that is the case. The aspiration to keep a government in place until 2018 at least, supposedly hidebound by a "solemn commitment", will require a degree of tactical nous and finesse that would indeed be novel given the mongrel-eat-mongrel morality that has blighted so much of modern Irish politics. If the Civil War parties couldn't quite set their enmities aside, the least they owe the country is to allow its day-to-day business take place uninterrupted by unchecked partisan ambitions. A cut in the USC, an increase in Garda numbers and extra funds for rural water schemes are all part of the deal. A measure of agreement has also been secured on housing and tackling hospital waiting lists.

Commitments to next year's Budget being a 2:1 split between spending hikes and tax cuts have also been secured. The announcement that Garda numbers will be increased to 15,000 in a massive acceleration in recruitment has been a long time coming. Delivering the deal, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin described it as a "fundamental change to what we've experienced". Given what his party did to the economy in the recent past, we most fervently hope so. They have now charted a course without having to take responsibility for where it ends. New politics or age-old expediency? Time will tell.

Only Clinton can stop the Trump bandwagon now

A random trawl through some of the pronouncements made by Donald Trump will explain a distinct sense of unease across the Atlantic at his closing in on the Republican nomination having romped home in Indiana.

Let's leave aside his claim in 2012 that: "An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama's birth certificate is a fraud." Or, for that matter, his plan to get the Mexicans to pay for a wall to stop their countrymen entering America illegally.

His diplomatic credentials were singed by his own sizzling tongue on too many occasions to count.

Should he complete what will surely rank as the most astonishing journey to the White House ever, his foremost attributes will have been a complete inability to feel shame or to doubt himself in any way.

Having left the global community agape on many occasions, he simply laughed it all off, saying: "You know, it really doesn't matter what the media write as long as you've got a young and beautiful piece of ass."

Despite a torrent of ribald, tasteless and insensitive outpourings, he has seen off the Stop Trump campaign in what all his detractors will have to admit has been a remarkable run. Whether Hillary Clinton can stop the billionaire's hurtling bandwagon remains to be seen. But one thing at least is certain and that is that the demise of the Donald is not something to bet the ranch on.

Irish Independent

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