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Ending the masquerade

THE Greens may have lit the fuse under the 30th Dail but the Government imploded all by itself. That is why any attempts to string out the forthcoming election by a day longer than is absolutely necessary will exact a heavy price.

It has been like watching the closing hours of a grubby masquerade ball: party debris everywhere, the revellers, reeling and bewildered, reveal themselves as the masks slip one by one.

With the country practically screaming for an end to the burlesque, the fact that a date is near to being agreed to end the madness should be welcomed.

What is to be made of the spectacle in Washington, Frankfurt or Brussels, is anyone's guess. The chaos in Government has already sent a shudder through international stock markets.

The 'New York Times', 'Wall Street Journal' and 'Washington Post' have all likened the death throes of Mr Cowen's administration to those of a crazed "circus".

The chaotic signals at the heart of government are less than helpful with the euro under threat and the entire union desperate to restore stability.

Having presided over a catastrophic series of events, Fianna Fail is consumed by another sideshow, the selection of a leader to pick up whatever pieces are left after the election.

Yesterday one of the contenders in the FF contest tacitly admitted that postponing the election was certainly in his party's interests, whatever about the country's. He accused the Opposition of attempting to orchestrate a "walkover", adding that his Government could not be pushed into an election regardless of issues with the Finance Bill.

Walkover or not, the people will have their say.

Another would-be leader, Micheal Martin, said the Cabinet had done "an awful lot of heavy lifting" for the incoming Government.

Those watching from the wings might wonder did this "lifting" include the removal of our financial sovereignty. It is hardly surprising that frustration and desperation are the predominant emotions amongst the electorate. Such a total collapse of leadership is unprecedented in the history of the State. In Government there is seemingly no end to the sense of delusion and disconnect.

Let us try and put the shambles in context. One thousand of our brightest and youngest will leave these shores every week for the next two years, due to record unemployment. Our hospitals are in crisis, and there is a €17bn gap between tax revenue and expenditure.

The public has every right to be impatient to restore some degree of authority and direction, the sooner the better.

Irish Independent