Editorial: Coalition is past its sell-by date
Published 15/06/2014 | 02:30
After three all too long years, more than a little of the elegiac winsomeness of Shakespeare's warning about how 'summer's lease hath all too short a date' surrounds our strife-torn Coalition. It makes for some change from 2011 when this eternally self-satisfied administration was calculating its shelf life in decades. Now, however, Micheal Martin, a leader who is getting a great deal more right than wrong these days, correctly notes that the Coalition resembles a 'caretaker' administration that has passed its sell-by date.
In this regard, nothing epitomises the deterioration of its political standing among the citizens more than the chilly public response to Mr Kenny's latest oeuvre on the mothers and babies scandal. Mr Kenny may have moved hearts when it came to Cloyne. However, such has been the thinning of his political credit, the response of the citizens to last week's formulaic attack on the wilted power of the crozier was one of disdain over the rodomontade coming from an individual who was as quiet as a church mouse on social issues when Ireland was still ruled by the church militant.
The deterioration of the Taoiseach's much mocked 'democratic revolution' accelerated even further courtesy of the Coalition's contemptuous interference in what is now universally believed to be a politically partisan banking inquiry. Last week's chaos, alas, was all too typical of the autocratic cult of micro-management, fearful self-absorption and basic incompetence of this lost administration.
In resigning from the Banking Inquiry, Stephen Donnelly joins that rare troika – politicians who have sacrificed position on principle – Roisin Shortall, Lucinda Creighton and Colm Keaveney. Last week's shabby prologue more than justified the Micheal McDowell inspired wisdom of the electorate in voting down the Dail Inquiries referendum, for the tribal school of politics practised by Mr Kenny is inimical to the granting of wide-ranging powers to this political class.
This shabby debacle also provided us with yet another example of how the State has become detached from the real lives of the citizens. The isolated arrogance where ministers apparently believe they rule by divine right has now created a vacuum that rough political beasts, who can scarce believe the opportunity they see, are racing to fill.
The electorate, in fairness, cannot be blamed for turning to Sinn Fein and Independents, for in healthy democracies the relationship between the governed and the government is contract-based. Our Coalition, however, tore up the contract they had presented to the citizens before the ink was dry on the ballot papers.
The surliness with which this Government responds to criticism suggests that, rather like a Victorian husband, our Cabinet believes the consent secured after the nuptials of the hustings gives them licence to behave in whatever way they like for the remainder of the marriage. The problem this administration must deal with is that we live in more enlightened political times. On May 23 the voters withdrew their consent from this Coalition and issued separation proceedings. Despite this decision, the Coalition can in theory remain in office until 2016. While they may retain their ministries, a government that does not possess the consent of the citizens is not in power.
The rough winds of the previous six months have shaken the current Cabinet's 'darling buds of May' to such an extent few may remain after the Labour leadership election. Those who replace them would be wise to realise that should they repeat the errors of their predecessors a far thornier Sinn Fein rose is growing fast.