Tuesday 10 December 2019

Ball now in Gormley's court

SOME show of unity of purpose among all political parties would help convince the European Commission and international markets that the Irish people have the will and the capability to solve their own economic problems.

It would certainly reduce the possibility of the International Monetary Fund having to be called in.

The goal of every political party in this country should be to bring stability to the public finances and prevent direct external involvement.

On that basis alone, the Green Party leader's initiative in calling for some sort of political consensus deserves more positive consideration than it received yesterday.

The move was dismissed by the opposition as an attempt to keep Fianna Fail and, presumably, the Greens in power.

Whatever motivated John Gormley's clumsy attempt to get the parties talking, he should now show he has the courage of his convictions and keep trying. He should talk to the other party leaders, including the Taoiseach, who damned the idea with less than faint praise yesterday, and explain to them why a display of unity would be in the national interest.

He should wear them down until they do the right thing.

His main difficulty will be that the phrase 'political consensus' is anathema to both Brian Cowen and Eamon Gilmore, the leader of the Labour Party.

Mr Gilmore managed to sound both reasonable and intransigent in the same sentence yesterday when he said he would talk to the Government "any time" about economic solutions but that his principal priority was to put Fianna Fail out of office.

Brian Cowen said he would welcome consensus on the budgetary measures needed to get the economy under control, but stopped short of approving the Greens' suggestion of an all-party forum. He showed that he sees the role of opposition parties in any 'consensus' as being decidedly subsidiary. Hardly conducive to a meeting of minds.

A leading rating agency has warned of the dangers of failure to achieve broad political support for measures to repair the public finances. Hinting that it was concerned about the effect of a change of Government, Fitch said: "Broad-based political support would help strengthen the credibility of the medium-term fiscal consolation effort."

You hopped the ball, Mr Gormley. Now it's back in your court.

Irish Independent

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