Friday 28 October 2016

Reminder that politics is a serious business

Published 13/02/2016 | 02:30

'The first TV debate (pictured) had the gravitas of a dismal Punch and Judy kiosk' Photo credit: Barbara Lindberg.
'The first TV debate (pictured) had the gravitas of a dismal Punch and Judy kiosk' Photo credit: Barbara Lindberg.

The opening days of the election campaign have hardly had us quivering with excitement - the first TV debate had the gravitas of a dismal Punch and Judy kiosk. Strings may have been pulled but the public's imagination will not have been animated.

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Given the dull, self-serving nature of the exchanges, this is hardly surprising. Yet, the sinister developments in the criminal world over the past few days ought to shatter any complacency about the primacy of politics and the danger of taking democracy for granted.

Those who would disengage from or disregard the election as a sideshow, that merely moves from hope to disillusion every four or five years, might think again.

Whom we select for government is vital. Hard choices were made as a consequence of the crash. Some were forced on us but others were freely made and we are suffering their bitter legacies. Cuts were imposed in health and on the gardaí.

The Department of Health and the Department of Justice have shipped much criticism, most of it deserved.

Policy failures in health have taken a heavy toll and have been well documented. But the closure of 150 garda stations and the freeze on recruitment, coupled with the closure of Templemore, also should never have occurred.

Whether the murderous events would have unfolded as they did in broad daylight at the Regency Hotel if the Whitehall Garda Station up the road was still open, may be a moot point. All we can now say with certainty is that a gang of killers were sufficiently emboldened to act without fear of capture.

Whether this was a failure in intelligence, procedure, resources, or a combination of all three, we do not know.

But we can be sure that any gap in the enforcement of law will be taken advantage of by ruthless thugs whom have been enabled to become the menace they now represent by amassing huge riches through their insidious empires.

Having politicians who are vigilant about the protection of the State is crucial. There is a danger in focusing on personalities and accepting slick, quick-fix responses.

But management of the economy and fair and firm government should not be taken as a given.

One truism that never appears to grow old is that politics is simply far too serious a matter to be left in the hands of government. Apathy is a luxury we can scarcely afford.

Irish Independent

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