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Editorial: 'Political chicanery over costs will come at a price'

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Reviewing the new order, Simon Coveney said: "Everybody loses here. The EU for Ireland will be quite different without the UK in it. Now our focus turns to the east-west relationship." Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

Reviewing the new order, Simon Coveney said: "Everybody loses here. The EU for Ireland will be quite different without the UK in it. Now our focus turns to the east-west relationship." Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

Reviewing the new order, Simon Coveney said: "Everybody loses here. The EU for Ireland will be quite different without the UK in it. Now our focus turns to the east-west relationship." Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

This is a momentous day in the history of these islands. This day next week, a critical General Election takes place. In the twilight zone of transition, things so easily get blurred.

As the UK steps over a threshold into the unknown, our own country also shifts on its axis. Many things may be beyond our control. Thankfully, the choice of government is not one of them.

But voters could arguably become snow-blind amid a blizzard of election promises.

Next Saturday we will all have to face up to the questions many of the parties have been avoiding.

In every bidding war, when the shouting and excitement is over, someone has to put their hand in their pocket and pay a price.

In Holland there is a sophisticated system for grounding political manifestos. The Netherlands' central planning bureau has built a solid reputation by managing expectations and reining in extravagance.

Here, somehow parties still get away with drawing political capital from the National Bank of Dreams. Be in no doubt: if this election is settled on who bids the most for your vote, you will have to pay dearly. Sometimes we make a choice, and sometimes the choice makes us. If a party gets into office on the back of bad postdated cheques, it will be too late to complain when they bounce.

It is a very human instinct to always choose pleasure over pain. Too much of one or the other ends badly. Economics deals with this in cycles of boom and bust. The bogus pledges of billions for every contingency are so flimsy, we have no excuse to be fooled by them. We can and must manage the internal risks. The morning after Brexit we must also remember the external ones. Reviewing the new order, Simon Coveney said: "Everybody loses here. The EU for Ireland will be quite different without the UK in it. Now our focus turns to the east-west relationship."

As Mr Coveney noted, we are losing "a very powerful friend". Brussels cannot allow the UK any competitive edge by allowing it to deregulate and opt out on standards that could undermine the EU.

Thus tension will build in a range of key areas where there was once co-operation.

Deals must be hammered out on fisheries, energy, transport, aviation, law enforcement and data protection. Labour leader Brendan Howlin touched on such concerns yesterday.

"We are now vulnerable to the capricious and mendacious politics of Boris Johnson," he claimed. Mr Johnson is hostile to a "level playing pitch". We are fortunate to have the solidarity of Europe to rely on.

In the coming year we will also have to rely on ourselves; a stable, responsible government at home in a time of uncertainty is essential. Magicians astonish by hiding what matters. Three-card political trickery costs so much more, but the only thing out of sight will be the cost.

Irish Independent