Shane Coleman: It's up to us to demand brave policy choices from leaders
GUESS who said the following? "To take away your rights to have a medical card beyond the age of 70 years – I reject it! The cheek of them. Shame on them. Shame. On. Them!" They were the words of Enda Kenny, the then leader of the opposition, to pensioner protesters five years ago. And they sum up the depressing uselessness of Irish politics probably better than anything else.
Here's what happens. In boom times, the government of the day gives away as many goodies as it possibly can to expectant voters. The opposition berates it for not doing nearly enough.
In bad times, the government of the day is forced to make tough decisions (albeit "politically proofed" ones to attempt to limit the electoral fallout) to correct the mess made during the good times. The opposition bitterly opposes the cutbacks.