Wednesday 24 July 2019

Listen, Taoiseach: Ireland says 'No'

Our polls send a clear message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke
Our polls send a clear message to Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke

The people have sent a clear message over the last two days. Put simply, Mr Kenny, they do not like the way you are governing.

Today's and previous Millward Brown polls indicate that they don't like the arrogance of this administration. They do not like the facile defensiveness with which you and your Government respond to criticism. Neither do they like its increasingly authoritarian spirit which is all too keen to 'put manners' on all who question you. The people do not like the evasiveness and incompetence that surrounds your approach to Irish Water. They do not like either the way you appear to cherish the mandarin and spurn the whistleblower. Indeed, frankly Mr Kenny, the people like very little about you and your administration. They like you so little that voters are even giving Sinn Fein the come-hither eyes. The problems you face, Mr Kenny, go far beyond the loss of a couple of MEP seats. Should you be in any way uncertain, and you rarely appear to be that way, the message the voters have sent is that they want you to change. And if you don't then they are in a mood to change a few things in your perfect world, and swiftly.

Mrs Thatcher in 1984 famously shredded Garret FitzGerald's Northern policy with her famous 'that is out' treble lock. Today in a reprise of that day the Irish voters have told the Government quite clearly that a number of things are out. Nothing epitomises the collapse of faith in the Coalition more than Universal Health Insurance: the voters support the concept but have no faith in the Government to implement it. For the electorate the obvious message is that Dr Reilly should be 'Out', and the sooner the better. The electorate has also sent a clear message to those who would emasculate the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for its cheek in speaking truth to our severely damaged charity sector. Those who would curb the PAC now know they too will be 'Out' if they continue on such a path.

On a day where Ireland says 'No' to the way we are being governed, two things are emphatically 'In'. The voters strongly support an extension of the powers of a PAC that is too often treated by elements of this administration as an enemy not an ally. They have also said an emphatic 'Yes' to a new political party. If the Reform Alliance does but merely sleep it may soon be time for it to wake up, chew its pride and find space to nestle beneath Michael McDowell's capacious wings. If it doesn't, then it too, just like Mr Kenny, will be 'Out'.

Today's Millward Brown poll confirms the evidence provided by our other polls that this country is sick at heart with how it is governed. A moral malaise can take many forms. In the case of the relationship of the citizens to the Coalition, the current malaise is driven by alienation and cynicism accompanied by that lassitude that is associated with despair. This is not the case anymore when it comes to our drab cabal of Venetian Doges where any impetus for change – if it ever existed beyond some ephemeral pre-election 2011 fantasising – is now far gone. After three years of mere existence under the dark clothes of the Coalition, a risen people – goaded beyond their natural conservatism by the ineptitude of our establishment – have had enough.

Be it for better or probably worse, a new alternative now leads across the State.

Sunday Independent

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