Trust in our politicians needs to be restored
Published 20/06/2016 | 02:30
A broken trust, an absence of faith, a system in desperate need of repair. Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl's appraisal of Irish politics is a sobering one.
He paints a depressing but wholly accurate picture of the status of the public's relationship with their politicians.
Confidence is at a low ebb because for too long the body politic has failed to properly serve the people.
Although many of the faces in Leinster House are new, the spectre of bad choices and poor decision-making continues to cast a shadow.
Voters don't feel that they have been led by politicians who have displayed the essential characteristics of leadership, honesty, humility and courage.
The ongoing fiasco surrounding water charges is one example of the public being completely let down by their representatives.
To punish almost one million households simply because they decided to abide by the law will be remembered in Middle Ireland for many years to come.
The recent admission that Dublin's north inner city has not been properly served in terms of investment also illustrates how out of touch the Government has become.
Community leaders have been making this point for years. Why has it taken seven gangland murders for the Taoiseach to pledge proper action?
Similarly, real action is required in relation to how the Oireachtas now operates.
The central aim of the much-heralded political reform agenda is to make our parliament more accountable to the people.
As the Ceann Comhairle acknowledges himself, it is critical that the business being conducted in the Dáil mirrors the issues and challenges facing communities.
Irish politics is, without a doubt, at a crossroads.
That trust that Mr Ó Fearghaíl says is broken can and must be restored.
But for that to happen, our politicians need to put the people first. They need to show commitment and use their powers responsibly.
They need to lead.
Template there to take action on insurance
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, motor insurance was so high young drivers couldn't afford to go on the road.
Aside from placing restrictions on movement, it had a damaging effect on the economy as some workers were entirely reliant on public transport.
The government at the time, headed by then Tánaiste and Enterprise Minister Mary Harney, set about putting an action plan in place to tackle the high cost of insurance.
The plan contained 67 recommendations aimed at bringing down insurance costs by 31pc over three years.
The problem resulted in the setting up of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board and Garda Traffic Corps.
The government, with the help of the Oireachtas Enterprise Committee, headed by Donie Cassidy, ensured the insurance companies acted on the resulting law enforcement and reduced cost of claims.
Today, the Irish Independent launches our 'End the insurance rip-off campaign' as the wheel has gone round again for drivers with spiralling premiums.
The template is there for action.
The current Government just need to repeat the trick.