SHAUN CONNOLLY: Government report card: High on taxes, soft on drugs

With two spectacular cock-ups seeing drugs temporally legalised, and heterosexual marriage nearly outlawed, it was perhaps not the best day for this unlucky and unloved Government to celebrate its fourth anniversary in power, writes Shaun Connolly.

To be fair, the section of drugs legislation struck down by judges dates to 1977, but how fitting that mind-altering substances suddenly became legal to consume just as the Taoiseach and Tánaiste tried to make us all believe we had lived through four years of political ecstasy.

However, in an information vacuum that would make drugs outreach workers rage, the 88-page annual report produced to mark the rollercoaster trip of this government since March 2011 was all about the glorious highs and none of the dangerous lows involved in mainlining the Coalition’s easy promises.

Well, they did admit to some misses — two to be precise. Strangely these did not include the failure to leave any bondholders even slightly alight, let alone burned, or the abandonment of the “game changer” deal the Government claimed it negotiated with the EU which we were promised would see billions recouped for bank recapitalisation.

No, the two great failures of the past four years the Coalition has ‘fessed-up to, or as described in its Orwellian speak, the ones they deem “commitments under review”, are; not creating an international hub for emergency supplies; and not bringing in elections for the Sports Council.

Who needs drugs when you exhibit that level of self-awareness?

As they read the shockingly frank admission of government misrule, how the 110,000 families in mortgage arrears must have despaired that they would have been able to face their repossession and eviction with faith restored in the political system if only Enda Kenny had followed through on his pledge to elect the Sports Council.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach was certainly putting the gay into Gaelic, as it emerged the Irish language version of the referendum question extending civil marriage rights to same sex couples had to be changed because it could ban differently sexed couples having their union recognised by the State.

With the direct translation of the Irish question reading as: “A couple may, whether they are men or women, make a contract of marriage in accordance with law,” there were fears a wedding between a male and a female could be deemed unconstitutional.

It all seemed oddly unremarkable on a day when Health Minister Leo Varadkar blithely walked onto the Leinster House plinth to confirm it was now legal to take ecstasy, magic mushrooms, quat and ketamine.

Mr Varadkar helpfully reminded us it was still illegal to sell drugs, but with the USC, water tax and every other levy imposed by this Coalition, who would have the money to buy them anyway?

Maybe that would have been a more accurate title for the Coalition’s self- regarding report card: High on Taxes, Soft on Drugs.

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