We can not return to auction politics
Published 30/05/2015 | 02:30
Social partnership was hailed as the dynamo that drove the Celtic Tiger; it was also damned for spinning out of control and contributing to the crash.
Hopefully we have moved on since the word 'budget' could not be used without being preceded by 'bonanza'.
Yesterday's agreement sought to give something back to public servants whom have seen their pay cut by up to 14pc since the economy went off the rails.
It is to be welcomed in as much that it shores up social harmony. Yet there will be some concern that not enough was done to make sure that the pay increases will also secure better public services, and better productivity.
The Labour Party will be hoping that the agreement will yield a bounce to its flagging fortunes in the polls.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan will also want it known that caution has not been thrown to the wind, and that the deal was prudent, in terms of maintaining industrial peace.
The economy may be recovering, but there are still pitfalls - not least of which is the troubling level of public debt.
The Government will still need to borrow €5bn to keep the country ticking over this year.
Above all, the deal must not be seen as a return to ruinous auction politics.
Many businesses in the private sector have just about remained on their feet and can scarcely countenance wage increases.
The Coalition may have secured some more votes through the Lansdowne deal; but pursuit of political popularity while ignoring hard economic realities generally comes back to haunt the groups involved. We do not want to be revisited by industrial ghosts from the past. Therefore, there is a heavy responsibility to make sure that this time it really can be different.
Learning lessons on the teaching of Irish
'Although the Irish language is connected with many recollections that twine around the hearts of Irishmen, yet the superior utility of the English tongue, as the medium of modern communication, is so great, that I can witness without sigh the gradual disuse of the Irish" - these words were written by Daniel O'Connell in 1833.
The Liberator may not sigh, but the latest statistics about the decline of Irish in the country's Gaeltachtaí should surely trouble the rest of us. In 1892, Douglas Hyde warned that: "By Anglicising ourselves, we have thrown away with a light heart the best claim we have upon the world's recognition of us as a separate nationality... the notes of nationality, our language and customs."
The first president of our country's concerns about our claim for world recognition would be much greater today, given the fall in the use of Irish. Figures for 2006 and 2011 reflect a dispiriting trend, despite State efforts. The fall in the use of Irish has been dramatic, with spoken Irish in the Gaeltachtaí becoming more confined to the classroom.
In the past, many would argue that it was the classroom that was the cause of turning people off the language from the start. Making it compulsory made it unpopular.
Many approaches have failed. If the decline is to end, we evidently need to do more and to be innovative.
A first step might be to heed the advice of Eoin McNeill: "There can be no greater delusion than to imagine that a language can be kept alive alone by teaching. A language can have no real life unless it lives in the lives of the people."