Thursday 18 January 2018

Kenny's choice: to twist or stick

Often, the most dangerous point in ship-building is the moment where the ship is launched. In the case of this administration, the forthcoming equivalent of a ship launch, or more accurately a re-launch, is Budget 2014. How Michael Noonan deals with the peculiar but no less strenuous challenges posed by the incipient end of untrammelled austerity will define the fate of the country in the immediate future. As the bond markets watch closely to see if Ireland can go it alone as a sovereign state, a successful exit from the bailout is just one of a series of acute immediate challenges.

Some would argue that Enda Kenny's adhesion to the concept of political reform would be more challenged by a victory than a defeat in the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad. Whatever about debating the future of the Seanad with Micheal Martin, one question Mr Kenny should answer is how they propose to reform the Seanad should they lose the referendum? If the Government does lose, it would represent a strange commitment to reform if, hoist by the petard of their own opportunism, they would respond to the public's declaration of faith in the Seanad by allowing it to rot in an unreformed state. Mind you, this is often a strange government.

The announcement of the long-delayed inquiry into the disastrous 2008 state banking guarantee represents an even greater test of this administration's commitment to political reform. So far, the dominant features of the Coalition performance have consisted of internecine petty bickering and a politically coarse attempt by the Taoiseach to turn an inquiry that should consist of an exegesis into the failure of the Irish State, into a scapegoating exercise. Mr Kenny told the Dail it was his earnest hope that TDs would use their important powers and solemn responsibilities prudently and judiciously. In that regard, it would help if the Taoiseach set an example and it would help even more if TDs has serious powers and important responsibilities.

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