Friday 19 January 2018

Bruton 'depressing'? No, but soft-soaping the electorate is

John Bruton
John Bruton

Liam Fay

In a week when enormous damage was inflicted on both government parties by their political opponents, the single most harmful blow was actually struck by an assumed political friend: John Bruton, the former Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader.

Bruton caused dismay among cabinet figures with his blunt assertion that Ireland faces 10 more years of austerity budgets. The timing of this intervention from a prominent grandee was regarded with horror. Following the rout at the polls, and amid the fallout from a campaign in which ministerial arrogance and condescension were hot election issues, coalition strategists are making a concerted effort to strike a more caring and sensitive pose. The Government's game-plan is clear: now is the time for soothing noises. Now is not the time for plain speaking.

Bruton didn't get the memo, and wouldn't have heeded it if he had. He made his prediction about the decade of high taxes and slashed public services that lies ahead while addressing Dublin's Chamber of Commerce in his guise as chairman of IFSC Ireland, a lobby group set up to advance the interests of the financial services industry. Clearly, this is not a man who is courting public popularity.

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