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We must not dig new holes in Road out of lockdown

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As German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU leaders: Europe faces the worst recession since World War II. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA via AP, Pool

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU leaders: Europe faces the worst recession since World War II. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA via AP, Pool

AP

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU leaders: Europe faces the worst recession since World War II. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/DPA via AP, Pool

To live is to war with trolls, wrote Ibsen. As the country dismantles various pandemic defences, a clearer picture of the battle we must contend with to regain normality emerges. Despite all the sacrifices and progress, what lies ahead is not for the faint-hearted.

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU leaders: Europe faces the worst recession since World War II.

She made an appeal that the pandemic would not result in Europe drifting further apart. Populists and extremists are on standby to exploit any weakness, she said.

"They are just waiting to stoke social fears and spread insecurity."

Considering the instability of a continent emerging from lockdown, her concerns are well founded. If we are to regroup and recover, a united front in government is essential. Sense, sanity and stability should be a given. Yet at this remove, we cannot even say with confidence we will even have a government. The parties will make up their minds over the next seven days.

As they do so they will hopefully reflect on the view from the trenches. At the forefront of their thinking should be the formidable odds ranged against many Irish families.

Their struggles to keep a roof over their heads and secure livelihoods imperilled by shutdown are all-consuming.

As the various players deliberate, the interim Government will be fighting on another front. In Brussels, this country - among others - is pressing for a revision of the mechanism to work out how much individual states will get. Currently we are to receive €3bn of the €750bn fund.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is making the case the mechanism is no longer accurate, petitioning for more. It does not take on board the devastating impact the virus has had on our economy. As if that was not headache enough, the entirely unknown shock of Brexit must also be absorbed.

And as we mull over all this, we must also mount a campaign to resist proposals to introduce a digital tax, and a special tax for large corporations in the EU. Both could seriously undermine prospects for recovery.

Our week began with talk of momentum growing within the Greens to support a coalition with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Yet Catherine Martin, their deputy leader, claims when the Taoiseach changes there will be an opportunity to renegotiate the terms of the programme for government.

She also vows to conduct internal analysis every two to three months, to monitor how policies are being implemented.

The road out of lockdown is cratered enough without digging new holes.

Our world has been upended. Right now people need reassurance, certainty, and direction. We are bruised and vulnerable and need solidarity, not discord.

Different notes can harmonise, but only when they play under a single baton.

Irish Independent