Saturday 16 December 2017

Global harmony needed on ethical leadership

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett switches on the Leinster House Christmas tree lights with the choir from the Holy Faith primary school in Derry, accompanied by Tánaiste Joan Burton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Maxwell Photography
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett switches on the Leinster House Christmas tree lights with the choir from the Holy Faith primary school in Derry, accompanied by Tánaiste Joan Burton, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Maxwell Photography

Liz O’Donnell

The Christmas tree is up on Leinster Lawn but the mood in Leinster House is fractious and far from festive. Decks are being cleared as the Government pushes through reams of legislation before the end of term. After the Christmas break there is no knowing what could happen and deputies across the board are on election footing, with several in the last-chance saloon.

Some in Fine Gael may be regretting the Taoiseach's decision not to call the election back in October. The seemingly intractable problem of patients on trollies, the constrained banking inquiry, and the calamitous floods of the last two weeks, all have a capacity to poison the public mood. However unreasonable it may be, when people lose their homes, livestock, farms and possessions, they inevitably cast around to blame the "authorities". In fairness to the Government, local authorities and the Civil Defence have mobilised a massive collective effort on this occasion to respond to the crisis, including immediately making money available to help those affected.

There was more than a touch of irony that while people here in rain-soaked Ireland battled the elements, world leaders at long last agreed a long-term strategy on climate change in Paris. The Taoiseach's opening speech at the COP21 conference was badly received as being minimalist and defensive; he appeared to be putting the interests of Irish agriculture ahead of our country's climate justice obligations and to be at variance with the general political sentiment and clamour for brave global action.

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