THE grandiloquent Irish politician John Boyle O'Reilly once famously asked: "What has posterity ever done for us?" After last week, it looks as though 'posterity', in the form of our grand-children, will be doing plenty. That, however, should not be used to criticise a deal, acquiesced to so reluctantly by the thin-lipped cardinals of the ECB, for posterity cannot exist if the present is annihilated. In fairness, the Government, which, after less than two years is struggling to avoid ending up in the same dustbin of history as its Rainbow predecessor, was properly modest in defining the extent of what was a major political victory. Like the Treaty, last week was a modest 'stepping stone' which has given us "freedom – not the ultimate freedom which all nations hope for and struggle for, but freedom to achieve that end". A government that is running out of friends must now chart a path to ensure that last week's deal evolves into a victory for citizens, as distinct to a potential sale of the century for IBRC debtors.
Hopefully, last week's rare chink of light in an abysmal political landscape – where the Government increasingly is trying to escape the consequences that come with any attempt to courageously reform the wasteland bequeathed to it by avoiding any reform whatsoever – will also be the catalyst for a new start for the beleaguered Coalition. One element of optimism in this regard was provided by the praise directed towards the senior public servants who shaped and brought the deal home.
We do not yet know if new blood in departments such as Finance and Public Enterprise is leading a critical Whitaker-style process of regeneration of the public sector. But the gathering strength of new 'rough beasts' – such as that curious cross of soviet economics and high capitalism known as Nama – means that a public sector renaissance, given the ongoing weaknesses of our instinctively servile political class, is to be devoutly aspired towards.