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New government must work - and has to last the course

Editorial


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Micheál Martin and colleagues have the goodwill of most Irish people irrespective of their political allegiance. Photo: Maxwells

Micheál Martin and colleagues have the goodwill of most Irish people irrespective of their political allegiance. Photo: Maxwells

Micheál Martin and colleagues have the goodwill of most Irish people irrespective of their political allegiance. Photo: Maxwells

The movie legend John Wayne once summed up his experience in making low-budget "quickie films" as follows: "You tell the audience what you're going to do, then you tell them you're doing it, and then you tell them what you've done."

The adage differs in one important way from many lamentable developments in modern Irish politics. The crucial difference is that too often the emphasis in our political lives is on telling the people over and over again what our politicians are about on an urgent issue. 

It's as if this repetition of intent to act, instead of action, will be sufficient. That duplicitous behaviour is quite simply called "spin" - but there were more blunt terms for it in previous generations.

Today, with commendable speed, our new Taoiseach Micheál Martin presides over the first working meeting of our new three-party coalition. Mr Martin and colleagues have the goodwill of most Irish people irrespective of their political allegiance.

That popular support for this new-look Government is based on a simple and stark reality. It is that we urgently need a new government to tackle the upcoming economic and social double-whammy which is the post-coronavirus fallout and the impending calamitous Brexit. The scale of these twin crises mean that from today it is all about delivery. And that is the responsibility of all parties and Independents at Leinster House. 

The main onus falls upon the Government - but it also falls just as heavily upon those who are on the Opposition side. It took 140 days since the general election to deliver this rather different coalition comprising the two Civil War foes, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, alongside a newly invigorated Green Party. The road ahead is exceptionally steep and littered with serious obstacles.

We need these three parties to meld, to minimise their natural political and personal differences, and apply themselves to meeting the Irish people's many needs. If they can do that and deliver results they will retain the people's goodwill and will deserve to prosper politically.

Clearly, some dissident members of the three parties must learn to just get on with things. 

Government is often slow and hard and not all about political gains. Equally, there is an onus on the parties and Independents in Opposition. There is a golden opportunity here for Sinn Féin, which becomes the main party of opposition.

Its party leader, Mary Lou McDonald, becomes the country's leader of the Dáil opposition. She and her colleagues' ability to criticise government shortcomings is well honed and good opposition is vital for balance.

But opposition must be leavened with a certain positivity of approach. Sinn Féin cannot just be right about things that are wrong. It must also remember that while one in four voters backed them, three out of four made a different choice.

Now more than ever we need solutions and a certain unity of purpose from all our TDs and senators if Ireland is to overcome the tough challenges ahead.

Irish Independent