Sunday 23 October 2016

Vote-buying always comes with high price

Published 11/08/2015 | 02:30

Both Labour and Fine Gael are desperate to convince voters that they have done a good job
Both Labour and Fine Gael are desperate to convince voters that they have done a good job

Do politicians ever grow up or do they just age? The question is prompted by the tensions reported today between the coalition parties on how best to spend the taxpayer's money in order to get themselves re-elected.

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The lessons of auction politics and the disastrous consequences visited on the taxpayer by Bertie Ahern's largesse in 2007 to secure a third term in office are still painful. Nonetheless, a scuffle has broken out in the ranks over the much-vaunted, multi-billion-euro capital plan to be unveiled next month.

We know that pro-cyclical giveaway Budgets can store up political capital which can later be cashed in at the polls, but we had hoped that such spending could be more about economic bang for one's buck and less about boosts at the ballot box. Budgets that are framed by short-term political gains tend to yield long-term economic damage.

Putting the needs of the country before the needs of either party to return to the Dáil with the highest number of seats has to be the priority.

Instead, we are seeing Fine Gael championing a blueprint tilted towards Justice and Transport - two departments which, by a truly remarkable coincidence, happen to be under the control of two FG ministers.

Labour, already jittery after polls showing it facing a haemorrhage of seats, is concerned at being bullied off the field and of the spending plans being 'Blueshirt-led'.

Whatever rinse the plan takes on, it would be far better if the political laundry was not washed in public and that internal politicking did not have an undue influence over critical spending decisions that will underpin the economy.

Both Labour and Fine Gael are desperate to convince voters that they have done a good job. Cooking up some savoury political appetisers may satisfy for a spell; but such recipes have come with a disastrous price tag in the past, and many a government survived for a time - only to later choke on its own promises.

From Penneys to the big bucks in America

It isn't every day that an Irish retailer launches an all-out assault on the centre of the shopping universe. This week Penneys/Primark will make history as it bring its fashion line to America.

Success rarely comes overnight and the chain has been plying its wares since it first opened in Dublin's Mary Street in 1969.

It is a bold pitch fetching up in Boston's iconic Burnham Building.

Primark has proved that designer style doesn't have to come at an exorbitant cost. It has been brash and bold and developed markets with young and old. However, the American market makes for a formidable challenge and it is up against giants of the industry.

It has been a graveyard for the ambitions of many other stores that dared to storm the citadel. However, having already laid down a marker in the UK and nine other countries, the retailer feels up to the test, and why shouldn't it?

It has a proven ability to re-invent and innovate, embracing novelty and risk simultaneously.

And America always backs a trier.

Irish Independent

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