Tuesday 22 October 2019

It's party time for Lucinda but we'll have to wait to see

Lucinda Creighton's new political initiative, which was unveiled on Friday with neither name nor policies, left a lot of unanswered questions, but the biggest question of all will be whether it can make a tangible difference in Irish politics and in the lives of those she hopes to serve.

The party was born out of dissaffection with our existing hide-bound party political system in general and in particular with the Fine Gael apparatus that denied Ms Creighton the right to vote according to her conscience on the Protection of Life in Pregnancy Act of 2013

Ms Creighton's party - in its genesis at least - bears marked similarities to the Progressive Democrats, founded in 1985 by Des O'Malley and Mary Harney who couldn't abide Charlie Haughey's oppressive sway over Fianna Fáil. The PDs went on to enjoy considerable political success, playing a part in government for half their brief existence before the party finally ended in 2008.

But while the PDs had a significant impact in Irish politics, it couldn't be said that they brought about a reformation. It was during the period of their tenure that our political elite led the country by the nose into an economic abyss.

What then of the Creighton party? So far they have no policies, only a broad set of aspirations that include: building a new economy that supports both enterprise and workers; developing a better work ethic in the public service; providing a minimum lifestyle standard for the nation's citizens; and reforming the political system to allow greater freedom of thought and action. These aims are to be fleshed out in greater detail in the next month or so after the party is officially formed but, with one exception, they are not new.

Even if they haven't said so in the same formula of words, any of the existing political parties would support the idea of building a better economy, a better civil service and giving people a decent standard of living. Despite appearances, neither this government nor any of the aspirants are actually against us - they're just not capable of delivering.

The one thing that is different about the Creighton party is the hope of allowing for political freedom of 'thought, difference and independence'. This could mean seeking the abolition of the iron fist party whip system that denies most government TDs any real say in the running of the country and of effectively representing their constituents. Abolishing the whip system would be a genuine reformation - albeit at the risk of seeing the Dáil descend into chaos beyond that with which we are familiar.

All that, of course, if for another day. For now Ms Creighton & Co. must focus on building support among the masses, many of whom are not happy with the fare being served up by our current stock of politicians. So far voter malaise has found expression in a wave of support for independents and Sinn Féin; both with a leaning to the left. Ms Creighton leans more to the right, but this might not be a disadvantage given the fickleness of Irish voters. Time will tell, but meanwhile there's another thorn in Enda Kenny's side. Time will tell there also.

Sligo Champion