Real stability requires new Dáil priorities

As the French would say — ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ — the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Real stability requires new Dáil priorities

Given the electoral upheaval one would be forgiven for thinking that politicians who had just had their cards well and truly marked by the electorate would be a little more circumspect — at least in these early days.

Unfortunately, this appears to be far from the case.

For many it’s business as usual.

How else can we realistically view the suggestion that those councillors who were elevated to the Dáil would hand over their council seats to family or friends.

It may be legal but it’s hardly democratic.

Unfortunately, it’s part of the reason why the people of Ireland have become so cynical of politics and politicians.

This is not a sustainable position to be in if we wish to get this country’s economy fully back on its feet and able to provide a sustainable future for the Irish people.

Over the last few weeks of auction politics many, if not all, of our politicians seemed to be speaking out of both sides of their mouths.

One side was saying that we have loads of money in the fiscal space, virtually suggesting that it was a bottomless pit that offered us goodies if only we would put the same experienced folk back in the driving seat.

The other side was telling us that stability was an imperative for our economy, if we are to ride out the many obstacles to our economy, arising from a considerably less than stable world economy.

It was not only a contradiction but it could be argued that it took the Irish electorate for fools.

Well, the electorate has spoken and it would be a very asinine politician indeed who did not get the message.

It wasn’t quite ‘a plague on all your houses’, but it could have been.

Undoubtedly, there are politicians in the major parties right now saying to themselves that all they have to do is hold out for a while, stay away from government, wait for the early collapse of whatever cobbled-together arrangement emerges, and then go all out for a mandate in any new election.

This is particularly so if it means propping up Enda Kenny in his bid to become the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to be re-elected, given that it could be argued that in its vote the electorate made clear that they did not want the existing government returned.

It’s also fair to say that any party going into government as a junior partner, even if it’s a sizeable junior partner, will very likely share the same fate as Labour, the Greens, the PDs and so on and on.

I cannot see Fianna Fáil doing that or indeed Sinn Féin.

So what to do? On Tuesday, Fergus Finlay offered us an option in an open ‘letter’ in this newspaper to the President.

It is an option that demands we return to the actual intent of the Constitution and that is that the government is answerable to the Dáil, and not just a plaything of the government, a rubber stamp to be instructed how to behave and how to vote.

In a way, the 31st Dail was the antithesis of democracy.

We had a Taoiseach who appeared unable, even unwilling, to be answerable to parliament and instead used the guillotine to cut short debate.

Fergus Finlay’s contention — which I agree with — is that “we don’t need a stable government. We need an honest, open, and accountable government.

"We need a government that’s created, in the open, by the whole Dáil and answerable to the whole Dáil”.

Life is about priorities.

Undoubtedly, we need stability if we are to maintain and grow our economy but unless we go back to a government of the people, by the people and for the people, we will have no long-term stability.

For what it’s worth, I trust that President Higgins will take heed of Fergus Finlay’s words and will take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to knock some heads together.

Our politicians need to work for the good of the country, not just their own party, not just for their constituency and not just to build up a large pension pot for their own benefit, but for a country that is fairer for all and not for the few and a country that underpins values that will continue to attract companies which will sustain our economy long into the future.

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