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Jody Corcoran: Higgins speaks... and silence all round suggests Coalition agrees

President Higgins's interventions on the policy of austerity, those dictated by the "hegemonic" authorities in Europe, are having a direct influence on party politics in Ireland. So has Michael D left himself open to accusations of straying from the constitutional remit of his office?

In today's Sunday Independent, Pat Rabbitte is the latest Labour minister to endorse the view of his former colleague: "A lot of things are said behind the scenes that cannot be said in public," he says, somewhat cryptically.

The implication, then, is that the President has expressed the unstated, though widely held, view of, well, the Labour Party.

While Enda Kenny has not publicly endorsed the views of the President, his spokesman told us yesterday there was "no unhappiness" within Government at the views expressed by the President in his Financial Times interview last week when he rounded on the ECB and called for eurozone bonds to be issued.

So we are asked to believe that the President has expressed not only the unstated view of Labour but also the deeply repressed view of Fine Gael.

For that alone, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein could accuse the President of straying from the constitutional remit of his office to allow the Government, in effect, to have its cake and eat it.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald attempted to raise the President's latest comments in the Dail, only to be shot down by the Ceann Comhairle: "No, no, no, we do not go there with the President," Sean Barrett said.

If they can't go there in the Oireachtas, then the media must go figure.

Well, for one thing, Senator John Whelan must be scratching his bald head at the pre-emptive rush to claim credit for the end of austerity, he having been among the first to call for it.

As any small business owner will tell you, credit is one thing, cash is quite another: €5bn to be almost precise. Mr Noonan's spokesman yesterday told the Sunday Independent that the Government's tax and cuts targets will remain in place until 2015.

Which is, more or less, what the Finance Minister said on April 23 and what the Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan said a week later when he suggested we get austerity over "a little bit faster" – by the end of 2014, perhaps.


That is unlikely, but Mr Noonan has raised the possibility of "spare capacity" in 2014 – that is, that the Coalition will have the benefit of the promissory note deal to play around with next year.

So here is what is going on: post Meath East, the Labour leadership has decided to hitch its wagon to lost leader Michael D, to lay claim to the end of austerity in two years. Fine Gael, more wisely, is determined to lay claim to Mr Noonan's 'spare capacity'. Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein will hardly be brave enough to accuse the President of disgraceful behaviour, thundering or otherwise. Who is afraid of the end of austerity, after all?

Nobody except the "hegemonic" authorities in Europe, of course.

Irish Independent