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Prosperity can only be sustained by a just society

The political labels of left, right and centre are failing us as we confront the dangers of social inequality and injustice, writes Eddie Molloy

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Finance minister Paschal Donohoe

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe

Finance minister Paschal Donohoe

In last week's Sunday Independent, Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe made a stirring case for centrist politics: "Why we must salvage the political centre - or face a bleak future". He cites some of the many achievements of the political centre: "It has enabled us to become one of the most prosperous countries in the world; created public services that laid the foundations for economic transformation and longer and healthier lives; and played an important role in overdue social change".

While such measures of progress are to be lauded, Mr Donohoe's portrayal of the outcomes of the ideology that has dominated Irish politics since the 1960s is rose-tinted and indeed colour-blind when he asserts: "The centre delivers policies that serve ordinary people; all people."

This statement is simply not true. The same political centre has left us with two-tier systems of justice, education, health and pension provision. Deficiencies in services for our most vulnerable citizens, like children with mental health problems or carers carrying impossible burdens abandoned to their fate, with perhaps two hours respite per week, represent a shameful failure of Irish politics. These and many other examples of injustice and suffering did not occur because of lack of money - this is a wealthy country - but because of a political culture that was not centrist but right-wing and populist.