Friday 24 January 2020

Kenny stands to reap ill harvest

AFTER another week of blundering arrogance it looks as though an administration, rapidly becoming as unpopular as its predecessor, is incapable of learning from the old warning about reaping what you sow.

In truth, the harvest has already come in early, given that more than one-fifth of the electorate now support the ideological mercenaries of Sinn Fein and a set of independent political adventurers whose most public manifestation includes less-than-attractive role models such as Michael Wallace and Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

Sadly, it is becoming increasingly difficult to criticise this unwise embrace of the politics of despair. On being elected Taoiseach, Enda Kenny promised he would replace the "old ways of politics'' that had "damaged us not alone financially, but emotionally, psychologically and spiritually". The Taoiseach was correct in his declaration that he had inherited a barren political and economic landscape and that this was the consequence and the cause of bad morals. This recognition, however, also makes Mr Kenny's accelerating adaptation of the opportunistic school of politics perfected by Fianna Fail all the more indefensible.

Fine Gael and Labour took charge of a State where corruption and graft was systemic. The new Coalition inherited a public sector whose dominant ethos has been described as "captured and corrupt" in the sense that its allegiance was to its own self-interest and its political masters rather than the citizens. The failure of such a system to police the semi-state and private sector meant the new Government also inherited a legacy of crony capitalism and its semi-state doppelganger of social partnership, that had turned Ireland into the "Wild West" of Europe.

So far, however, the response of this Government to the necessity of imposing a new accountability on our banking, business and political elites has had all of the weight of a feather dropping on a weighing scale. It is bad enough that economically this administration aspires to no higher a role than being undertakers for the troika, or that its attitude to the serial acts of incompetence it perpetrates, is the old Fianna Fail one of blithe indifference crossed with arrogant denial.

Given that in opposition, Fine Gael and Labour did so little to merit the goodwill that accompanied the Coalition's accession to power, we should not be too surprised by the speed with which this second-rate administration has squandered its political capital. Recently the French National Centre for Scientific Research made the remarkable discovery that when it comes to writing, baboons can ape humans. Sadly, it appears to be somewhat easier to teach a Fine Gael administration to behave like Fianna Fail. In fairness it may be the case that having watched Fianna Fail for so long in opposition, Fine Gael can conceive of no other way to behave. It would, however, be wise to smarten up for once again we are warning this Government that if its actions alienate this electorate sufficiently the voters may decide to deny this administration that which it most wants. Sow carefully Mr Kenny or you may reap a referendum debacle.

Sunday Independent

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