Government must now be formed
Published 17/04/2016 | 02:30
Today marks 51 days since the General Election, the outcome of which was a result that many predicted but few still seem capable of dealing with. The political stalemate has gone on long enough. The time has come to form a government and to get on with the business of running the country. Since polling day, the two main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, have been engaged in the slow process of contending with the fallout. For that, those parties have been roundly, but unfairly criticised. The result was always going to take some time to negotiate.
This newspaper has sought to direct what criticism should exist at those who deserve it most, which are those parties, alliances and individuals that have refused to engage whatsoever in the process of government formation, because above all others that is where the criticism is most deserved. The Independent TDs who did manage to rise to the occasion resolutely refused to get off of the fence last week when it was put up to them that they should do so. There are varied and nuanced reasons for them failing to choose a side, which must be accepted as legitimate. However, these same Independents must now make known their decisions and bring an end to the instability that has existed since election day.
The only option available is a Fine Gael-led minority government under the leadership of Enda Kenny. Those Independent TDs minded to support this government must do so this week, although a Fine Gael/Independent government could hardly be described as representative of the electorate's decision. The new government would be well served by the inclusion of those other parties now said to be tentatively considering re-engaging in the process.
The Labour Party, in particular, is on the horns of a dilemma this weekend, as are the Social Democrats and the Green Party, although to a lesser extent. All things considered, it would be wiser than not for Labour to support the tentative new arrangement, either in government or opposition, but preferably in government. The new government would also be enhanced by the involvement of the Social Democrats and the Greens, which now also has a duty to live up to the rhetoric as expressed in the Dail last week by its new TD Catherine Martin or stand accused of hypocrisy and self-interest, two traits not normally associated with that honourable movement.
There is also a solemn duty on Fianna Fail to honour the beliefs of its leader, Micheal Martin, that minority governments, the relative norm in Europe, can also work here and not to take advantage of a situation into which it has manoeuvred itself for the betterment of party over country. As events have shown again last week, there is much for the country to contend with, not least the spiralling crisis related to gangland crime which saw an innocent bystander shot dead in the north inner city of Dublin. The other issues are also well known at this stage, and well rehearsed by those who have taken part in the current negotiations. The resolution of these problems will take time, effort and will, and no little money, which would be better spent for the good of the country than financing the pet projects of those who seem happy to auction to the highest bidder their support to form a government. All of those involved in government formation negotiations in recent weeks must now act on their loudly expressed convictions, and receive acknowledgement for doing so, while the denunciations of those who absented themselves from the process should be heard to ring hollow.