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Friday 23 February 2018

It's high time for action and strong leadership

We have to do whatever it takes to get the country moving again, writes Noel Kelly

Everyone is sick to their stomach listening about the economic/banking crisis. But the following is a layman's analysis of how we got where we are and where to go from here.

Who was leading the country for the 10 years of the boom, ie formulating and putting into effect economic policy, regulating banks, and financial institutions? Fianna Fail.

While most, but not all, citizens were guilty of materialism and greed, it was the government's duty to rein in their baser instincts by good governance. A lot of people in Ireland can escape responsibility for their decisions and actions, and not many suffer consequences, except small-to-medium-sized business people. If they underprice something, or a staff member messes up, then it costs that businessperson money.

A minister should have a relatively small number of key civil servants under his or her immediate direction, with clearly-defined responsibilities. If they fail in their duties through incompetence, their contract of employment should be such that they can be demoted or fired. In the event of a government minister being guilty of incompetence, or not administering their department effectively, they should be fired.

These sanctions should be applied rigorously, with the burden of proof resting on those accused, such is the honour and prestige attaching to serving the Irish people.

With regard to where we go from here, we can't throw bricks and petrol bombs around the centre of Dublin. Fianna Fail should be cast into the wilderness, never to be involved in government again, such has been the enormity of the dereliction of duty they have perpetrated upon the people of Ireland. To effect this would require the good offices of the Green Party.

This is a time when the Green Party are in a position to perform a service for the State far greater than that of any party since the foundation of the State -- the people of Ireland, which to my mind is Ireland, not four provinces or 26 counties so beloved of republicans.

What the people of Ireland want more than anything is justice, someone to be accountable for this mess -- not incompetent regulators, Central Bank governors and top people in banks being given sweetheart departure deals instead of being sacked.

I look across Leinster House and I am at a loss to see a patriot, a term demeaned by inappropriate use. All the parties are virtually the same, therefore why an election now? The architects of our misfortune should not be given the task of fixing things.

There are many great people in Fianna Fail, great soldiers led by very bad generals. What happens if Fianna Fail are immediately ejected from government? Is the country to be led by Enda Kenny? Probably a good man, but clearly utterly disliked by the people.

It is my contention that this question of who governs if not Fianna Fail is totally and utterly irrelevant. By any yardstick, they have proven to be unworthy of the great honour of serving the people and therefore they should have been gone long before decisions on Nama and the banks were taken.

These were not, and are not, issues they should be permitted to deal with. The bank bailout should not happen. Why? The bankers thought they were supermen and paid themselves accordingly. They have caused untold damage in terms of depression, fraught marriages, sadness and millstones of debt, not just to those involved, but also to their immediate families.

The banks gambled and lost, the bondholders gambled and lost, the people of Ireland did not. The banks should be nationalised, lock, stock and barrel, no half measures. Ireland today stands a broken, battered, demoralised nation. To whom can it call in this, its most dreadful hour of need?

There is only one hope, a party which many regard as a party of tree huggers, not to be taken seriously, the members of which, however, are well-intentioned and trying to do the right thing. That party is the Green Party.

We are unable to take back unjust payments to incompetent heads of state boards, bankers and regulators. We should reduce the burden of proof required and amend the Constitution if required.

We are unable to apply the public sector pay/pension cuts to judges' salaries -- again amend the Constitution. Everyone complains about the cost of tribunals and the unreformed nature of the legal profession. It needs a rigorous root-and-branch reform to be carried out by an able and determined Minister for Justice.

The Constitution is the servant of the people, not the other way around. If some necessary action is unconstitutional, hold a referendum, if necessary hold four or five a year, whatever it takes.

Let's have some action, let's have some leadership.

Noel Kelly runs a small business in Monasterevin

Sunday Independent

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