Thursday 22 February 2018

Slightly constitutional Government must call election

Economic credibility is based on political credibility, and this Government's credibility is now in tatters, writes Ronan Fanning

LAST week witnessed a reworking of one of the most venerable political cliches: three days, not a week, is a long time in politics. Tuesday brought the announcement of the resignation of Donegal TD Dr Jim McDaid; Wednesday the judgement by the President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, that the Government's prolonged delay in holding the Donegal South-West by-election was unconstitutional; and, then to cap it all, Friday saw the unveiling by Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan, of his €6bn nightmare, the budgetary details of which he proposes to announce on December 7.

Any one of these three events had the capacity to bring about an overnight transformation in the political landscape. Their total effect is both cumulative and interactive, and the overall impact so potentially cataclysmic that the national interest now demands that the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, call a general election without further delay.

Mr Lenihan touched on the heart of the matter when he tried to justify his budgetary strategy in his television interview on Thursday: "We have to justify that we are credible in terms of our borrowing." What he meant, of course, was that the international markets must be persuaded of the economic credibility of his plans. But economic credibility is ultimately rooted in political credibility and the political credibility of this Government is now in tatters.

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