Tuesday 25 October 2016

We elected politicians to legislate, not dither

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

'Clearly, legislation needs to be urgently enacted, except of course, we don’t have a government.' Photo: Tony Gavin
'Clearly, legislation needs to be urgently enacted, except of course, we don’t have a government.' Photo: Tony Gavin

If another anvil was required to fall from the heavens to shatter the complacency about the urgency of putting a government together, it landed with a legal jolt yesterday.

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According to Mr Justice Michael Moriarty, lay and professional persons involved in the criminal law arena "simply do not know at present where they stand."

His remarks were made in the specific context of the High Court declaring that the law governing the power of the courts to activate suspended sentences was unconstitutional.

However, given the current political paralysis, the entire country is at a loss as to where it stands, sits or stumbles.

The law currently allows for significant differences in the treatment of people as far as their rights of appeal are concerned. And, according to Judge Moriarty, every week there are challenges to the relevant Section 99.

His decision will have implications from the District all the way up to the Central Criminal Court.

Clearly, legislation needs to be urgently enacted, except of course, we don't have a government. Big decisions are frozen as the wheels of the government juggernaut spin uselessly in mid-air. For however grave, and whatever the import of the judgment is, there is very little to be done until the suspended animation of the 32nd Dáil comes to an end. Other difficulties presented by the power vacuum are mounting. In health, industry and in the wider economy, fault lines are developing which require executive attention.

Meanwhile, the silent disco that Dáil Éireann has been reduced to, with each party dancing to its own headset, knows no end. We have held an election to determine who is in power, but how that power is used, remains to be determined.

It is wholly unconvincing for parties to claim that prior campaign promises prevent them from entering government when ignoring them was never a problem when it served their purposes in the past. It is appropriate that the latest talks are being held in Trinity College, across the road from what was once our house of parliament, and down the road from the Dáil - which was also once a house of parliament.

Farmers choose outsider to give IFA a fresh start

The election of Joe Healy as president of the Irish Farmers Association affords the organisation a much-needed new start.

The association seeks to put to bed stories of entitlement and the pay scandal that has hung over it. It wants also to embrace a new era of fairness and transparency.

The size of the vote for Mr Healy seems to signal a fresh beginning for someone who had no part in any of the revelations that so rocked the organisation.

His first challenge will be to rebuild trust and instil confidence in the wake of all that has happened.

His status as something of an outsider will be a plus in driving change that is critical in meeting the challenges facing agriculture with falling incomes and international competition.

Mr Healy will be hoping to draw a line under the controversial departures from IFA HQ and concentrate instead on repairing this important lobby group's credibility and securing a better deal for farmers.

Irish Independent

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