Five key issues as we head into election mode - which will ultimately be ignored
Life is rapidly draining from the 31st Dáil. The final legislative programme includes a litany of mundane matters on implementing budgetary decisions through finance and social welfare bills. But, there is also legislation to curb bail terms, protect part-time employee rights and ban the slapping of children. As we approach a dissolution, the true extent of unfinished business is now visible. While the election campaign comes sharply into focus, it's time to do an inventory of the formidable challenges facing the next government.
Parties preparing manifestos will, of course, fix firstly on promises to deliver votes. Focus group research will identify the most effective marketing gimmicks: tax cuts, abolition of Irish Water, recruitment of extra nurses, gardaí and teachers, welfare enhancements and tweaking of improvements in education, childcare and health entitlements. Political leaders' priorities are predicated exclusively on populism and short-term thinking - ignoring issues of potential societal conflict and evading long-term challenges. Fresh mandates aren't gained from scrutinising past records.
The following are five critical points that will be waffled about, but ultimately ignored.