Opinion Editorial

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Sorry Bruton, but talk is cheap

It would be hard to find a better example of the truth of the biblical warning that "without vision the people perish" than the unseemly adherence of a continental elite to the economics of 'dumb' austerity. We at least have witnessed a brief Irish spring where senior figures such as Michael D Higgins, Joan Burton and Eamon Gilmore have dared to question the merits of 'dumb' austerity. This breeze of change can only be strengthened by the blundering intervention of the former Taoiseach John Bruton.

Sadly Mr Bruton's threnody about the virtues of 'austerity' is rather compromised by the gargantuan pensions he pockets in a country where, thanks to the 'creative destruction' Mr Bruton has such an affection for, children now go to school hungry and suicide is reaching epidemic proportions.

Mr Bruton who, like the pigs in Animal Farm, thinks austerity is only a virtue when applied to the masses, would do well to understand that the chief characteristic of the iron age of austerity is a barbarous assault on the quality of life and future hopes of citizens across a continent. It may come as a shock to this dinosaur, who pines for the deferential world of the Irish Parliamentary Party when we knew our place, but citizens in a developed society believe they should at least have the expectation of having the opportunity to progress and improve their lives through education, the simple right to work and some miniscule degree of personal security over how they are cared for in their old age.

What is actually immoral is the spectacle of this child of private education and inherited wealth, who cannot see a Sutherland without fawning over them, gorging himself on a variety of State pensions. The former FG Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, showed his true character, by the decision when the recession broke, to gift some of his pension back to the State. Mr Bruton, who showed his true character by keeping all of his, in contrast resembles the fat bishop in a famine who lectures the starving peasantry about the virtues of frugality. If he wishes to acquire any credibility in the arena of ethics Mr Bruton should reduce his pension to the level of the average industrial wage. That should not be so hard seeing as he appears to think even this modest sum is excessive. In fairness, lest we be too hard on Fine Gael's 'fat bishop' we should ask if Mr Bruton is as isolated in his views. Mr Kenny's response to those like Ashoka Mody, who have challenged 'dumb austerity' has been to shush them in the manner that an overly punctilious parent silences a talkative child. And the kindest thing that can be said of Michael Noonan's attitude to Ireland's rogue banks is that he appears to be pursuing a policy of killing them with kindness. It is time for both to come out of the closet and state whether they stand with Bruton or Michael D.

Irish Independent

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