Establishment avoids real issues as Trumpism advances

A WEEKEND opinion poll shows Sinn Féin is enjoying its strongest support in over a year. 

The Sunday Business Post put Sinn Féin on 19%, up 5%. The People Before Profit and the Anti-Austerity Alliance grouping showed a spectacular jump too, albeit from a low base. They rose to 6%, up 2%. Together those figures top Fine Gael’s 24%. The figures are an expression of the utter disenchantment with establishment politics that has given the world, undeserving as we may be, President Trump and Brexit. The prospect of Marine Le Pen in the Élysée Palace surfs on that tsunami of anger too. The poll is only the tip of the iceberg, however.

Potentially chaotic industrial unrest in public and private sectors is gathering momentum because just like Trump’s supporters and many of those who voted for Brexit, Irish workers have had enough of running — for almost a decade — just to stand still.

Workers are expected to do more for less, they are expected to offer loyalty to institutions that do not reciprocate with security. Zero-hour contracts and gig jobs, despite the self-serving assertions of those who offer them, eat at the very foundations of society. Some young workers work alongside colleagues who enjoy far better terms. We rub salt into that wound by making it all but impossible for young workers to realise home-and-family ambitions. Why should they have faith in that system? Why do we wonder that they are so happy to emigrate?

More workers still are asked to look on while their jobs are privatised and offered to companies whose power and profit are dependent on offering their non-unionised employees minimum everything. Others are expected to be happy little elves while profitable corporations use helpfully weak pension laws to welch on retirement deals so they can make their balance sheet look better to investors. Investors were reassured too by last week’s confirmation that striking Tesco workers are entitled to family income supplement. This subsidy allows them, and others, to continue paying their workers a wage they cannot live on.

The list goes on and on and is exacerbated by the failure to hold anyone to account for the Wild West finance that got us to this point. That Spain’s bankers face jail sentences because they encouraged people to buy shares in a new bank they knew was guaranteed to fail — but, in an all too familiar story, which they also knew would be bailed out by taxpayers — highlights the gross failure looming over our society. As if this witch’s cauldron was not toxic enough, Finance Minister Michael Noonan has hinted at tax cuts. He may be trying, naturally, to distract us from unfolding dramas but, just like Commodus’ 100 days of games, that shabby gambit will fail. Someone might point Mr Noonan to our health, housing, education and social supports crises before he goes too far.

And all the while, Fine Gael, like a horse staring into a ditch, prevaricate while the world leaves them behind. All the while, Fianna Fáil insist that their purity prevents them joining any grand coalition, one that might be positively transformative and might save us from an expression of despair as frightening as a President Trump or as destructive as Brexit.



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