Wednesday 7 December 2016

Definition of insanity: voting same way, expecting change

Published 25/04/2014 | 02:30

Pat Rabbitte's comment about campaign promises should be borne in mind. Photo: Tom Burke
Pat Rabbitte's comment about campaign promises should be borne in mind. Photo: Tom Burke

* Is it expecting too much for the people of Ireland to grasp that, even if all the banking debt were to disappear, the hard financial reality is that it costs more to run the country than the country generates in taxes? That figure is the constant around which policy decisions about spending are made.

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As the political parties line up to outbid each other, is it also too much to hope that there would be someone in the political class with the vision and integrity to challenge the whingeing about water and property charges head-on? To ask voters: how exactly do they propose that the infrastructure that delivers water to the tap is built or maintained; how are roads and local services paid for? As is typical in Ireland, the focus is on the charge itself and not on what it is used for. Wouldn't it be better if a political party made a promise that 100pc of local property taxes would be retained and spent locally, or that the new water monopoly would be set up on a self-funding, not-for-profit basis, without the need for a subsidy of €500m – which doesn't just appear by magic, but is funded by cuts to other services? Just think what a difference an extra €500m would make to disadvantaged schools or the disabled.

I give fair warning to friends and family that I do not want to hear any more whingeing about how difficult life is in Ireland if they go out and again vote for Fine Gael, Labour, Fianna Fail or even Sinn Fein. Because they do that in the full knowledge that none of those parties' promises are genuine. The comment by Pat Rabbitte, on campaign promises as "things you tend to do during an election", should be borne in mind.

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