Monday 11 December 2017

A clear left-right split in the party system is now starting to emerge

The next election is set to be about choosing Fine Gael's coalition partners

Frank Flannery at Leinster House in 2012. Picture: Tom Burke
Frank Flannery at Leinster House in 2012. Picture: Tom Burke
Fionnan Sheahan

Fionnan Sheahan

A STRANGE event took place during the week. A significant policy in a highly sensitive area of the public service was outlined without any great fanfare, no PR people with clipboards, no promises of quick-fix solutions. Instead, implementation of this initiative won't actually happen for another five years and the impact won't be measurable for the best part of a decade.

The announcement won't deliver any poll bounce ahead of the local and European elections. In fact, the lack of detail and possibility of twisting the interpretation will mean it has the potential to be a negative. Of course, the get-out clause is that there is no cast-iron commitment to it, so it can always be backed out of in the coming years.

Universal health insurance, possibly the biggest transformation of the way the health service is run, is now on the agenda. But it isn't a short-term vote winner within this electoral cycle. It's a rare example of strategic thinking going beyond the lifetime of an administration.

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