Wednesday 28 September 2016

Give us good governance - not self-serving talk

Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. Pic: Mark Condren
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. Pic: Mark Condren

Figures leap in and out, there is much tick-tocking; time disappears, but nothing to show for it: Welcome to the cuckoo-clock politics of the 32nd Dáil. On February 25 the electorate voted. They gave our politicians a dose of the truth; whether or not they like its taste is of no import. They have a duty to swallow hard and get on with the job of forming a government.

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Fianna Fáil is prancing about like a sulky bride who will not have her virtue sullied or her dowry squandered on a bunch of boorish unworthies. Having being hoist by its own petard, Fine Gael appears to be still in deep shell-shock. Instead of being a repository of leadership and good governance as might befit the parliament of a nation celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Rising, the Dáil has sunk into a trough of depression and despond.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who still seems to be intoxicated by the perfume of his own success, was out yesterday decrying the fact that "there is a media obsession with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. The people have voted a different kind of Dáil in." No, Mr Martin, there is no media obsession. If you are too insensible to heed what the voters have decreed, we will spell it out for you.

The only parties with sufficient numbers to form a Government happen to be the two largest ones. The antics displayed over the last two weeks have been nothing short of disgraceful. When a crèche was installed in Leinster House in 2005, it was expected that the infants would keep out of the main chamber. Seeking political advantage and playing poker - with all the problems of this country piled high on the table - is grossly insulting to all those who voted in the election.

There seems to be an alarming disconnect between our TDs and the notion of civic responsibility in public office. After all the clucking about stability, we are instead getting a sense of: "This is all fierce, shocking, terrible, but what has it got to do with me?" Meanwhile the Independents and Sinn Féin enjoy the view from the fence. There is a longstanding tradition in this country that holds it indecent to proceed with the next election before an attempt has been made to establish a government. Elections are not like rattles that can be thrown out of a pram whenever a politician loses the plot.

Our country has come through the most difficult economic time in its history. A good portion of the blame for this still hangs about the heads of many of those still within Leinster House. Instead of looking for redemption by putting all their efforts into building and securing our future, their energies are concentrated instead on securing a greater share of power for their own parties. We have crises in health, housing and homelessness; we are facing another potential economic tsunami with a possible Brexit; and yesterday we saw the ECB taking unprecedented action to try to stimulate a flat-lining European economy. When we need the best minds in the country formulating strategies, we instead have complete political paralysis. The first order of business yesterday was to elect a Ceann Comhairle. The second was the formation of a government. Instead, we saw a dreary procession as each one, with less hope than the next, stepped forward to offer themselves as leaders of our land. It was a tedious show of futility.

Our putative custodians of the national interest fiddle as the flames lick their feet. Niccolo Machiavelli did not hail from Cork or Mayo, but his political nous has stood the test of time. He warned: "Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance." We have seen the people take their vengeance twice in the past two elections; to pull the tiger's tail a third time, with a wholly unnecessary, and wildly irresponsible, election, would be foolish beyond belief. If this crop of politicians is not capable of national politics let them go back to their local councils. We need governance, not self-serving parish pump guff.

Irish Independent

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