Are there any statesmen left?
IF you thought it was safe to lift your head from under the covers after the resignation of Brian Cowen and agreement to rush through the Finance Bill -- think again.
Incredible as it seems, a new crisis has erupted with the decision of the Independent TDs Michael Lowry and Jackie Healy-Rae to present a "wish list" watering down the Finance Bill. It is quite an achievement to make Greece look like a haven of political stability, but that is what is happening. The country's growing reputation for insanity can only be enhanced by these developments.
It is all a direct result of the shambolic handling of the date of the election and the leadership of Fianna Fail, even though the Finance Bill might always have been too much for the Independents. This month's pay packets have shown people just how severe is the impact of the new social charge and the reduction in tax credits. Backing this bill is bound to be unpopular. Yet, under normal circumstances, the Government might have been able to resist such pressures, in the course of prolonged debate. It might even have dared risk an election by standing on the need to fix the public finances. Unlikely with this Government, many will say, but not impossible.