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Gifts to help our politicians steer safe path amid chaos

I hope that your household was serene and fulfilled over the Christmas season. A continued supply of water to house and farmyard would have gone some way to achieving this desirable state.

This latest freeze-up was worse than last January. The very low temperatures stayed with us for longer. The mayhem was more widespread.

There are also stories of horrific losses where cattle were let out of a shed for a drink and gorged themselves on ice-cold water.

One farmer in Wexford is reported to have lost 16 cattle in this manner. In another case, 20 cows were turned out to get water but only three made it back in. A milk tanker lost control on an icy farm avenue and turned over.

On the third day after the thaw started, some pipes remained frozen. Livestock farmers were going around as pale and tired as if in the middle of calving time. If we never have frozen weather like it again, that will be too soon.

At least the holiday season gave us all a break from listening to the bad economic news. Presumably our Government enjoyed their break too. Maybe Santa Claus brought them gifts that will help them meet the challenges that lie all around them. I present here a leaders gift wish list:

Taoiseach Brian Cowan

In an outbreak of conscience and goodwill at Christmas, the trade unions could come to Cowan and tell him that they are no longer insisting on the implementation of the Croke Park deal.

The unions could tell him: "Sure we never expected you to concede the deal in the first place. It's not sustainable that an ever-declining private sector be squeezed even harder to preserve the pay and pensions of the civil and public servants at an average wage 45pc higher than their own.

"Sure we all know that the delivery of efficiencies in the public sector is still some way off and, in reality, is a myth.

"Our minds were also concentrated by the statement from Ed Walsh of the University of Limerick to the effect that benchmarking Irish welfare payments and civil and public servant pay levels to those in Northern Ireland would save €15bn a year."

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan

He needs two proven performers to help him negotiate with the IMF, the ECB and bankers holding Irish finance bonds. They are Ray McSharry, former minister and commissioner and Larry Goodman.

McSharry had the toughness to drive through stringent cuts that got us out of the 1980s' recession. But his wheeler-dealer ability, honed in the Irish cattle trade, would have helped get a better deal from the IMF and the ECB.

Similarly, Goodman has a proven record of getting foreign banks to make massive write-offs after his business went into examinership in 1990. These are the calibre of people that Ireland needs fighting in our corner at this time of need.

Farm Minister Brendan Smith

A Cavan crystal ball to enable him to have a clear view as to what path to take to reach his Food Harvest 2020 targets. The Farm Minister could use the crystal ball to predict the outcome of any general election that is coming down the tracks.

Even if Mr Smith's party is not in power, the permanent civil servants will benefit from having directional guidelines on how to grow agri wealth in Ireland and attain the Food Harvest 2020 targets.

Fine Gael Leader Enda Kenny

This man needs a bottle of statesmanship. Instead of repeating the mantra about Fianna Fail and the Greens ruining the country, I want to see Kenny rising to a higher level of political debate that would befit a Taoiseach in waiting. At risk here are the votes of the disillusioned Fianna Fáil supporters who could easily run to Sinn Fein if Kenny alienates them from Fine Gael.

Health Minister Mary Harney

The loan of Michael O'Leary from Ryanair to help sort out the HSE. Then again every Government department could benefit from the Ryanair man's business approach.

Irish farmers

Weatherwise we would like the same as per 2010 without the cold bits at either end. On prices, we would settle for 2010 for sheep, cereals and milk but an add-on would be required for cattle and pigs. However, above all, let's hope we can stay safe and healthy.

Indo Farming