The Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold Award: The Worker’s Party’s operatives in the Labour Party, on the verge of completing a 20 year old plan to destroy the old enemy.
The Sure It Worked In 1977 With The Rates Didn’t It Award: Fianna Fail for its opposition to the property tax negotiated by Fianna Fail in government.
The Here, Stop Talking About Stuff In The North, That’s Our Gig Award: Sinn Fein, for its flexible approach to public spending cuts depending on what side of the border one is on.
The Jaysus, Dem USI Presidents Are Like Cockroaches, They Get Everywhere Award: To former USI presidents Eamonn Gilmore, Pat Rabbitte and Colm Keaveney.
The Political Reform? Sure That’s Something You Talk About In Opposition Award: Fine Gael and Labour for their defence of the whip system over, well, everything.
The I Wish The IMF Would Order Us To Do Something About This. Then We Could Blame Them Award: The Oireachtas for 20 years of hiding behind the couch everytime abortion called around.
The My Friends Pretend Not to See Me On The Street Award: The new, young first term FG and Labour TDs voting through crap they campaigned against.
The Not Even Knowing They’re Getting Taken Roughly From Behind Award: Young teachers and nurses who let their unions agree to cutting their entry level benefits in order to protect the benefits of older, better paid and mortgage free union members.
The Paul Daniels Classic Misdirection Award: Jack O’Connor, for pushing the line that private and public sector workers are all in the same boat.
The Neck Like Lester Piggott’s Bollocks Award: Brendan Howlin, for telling private pension contributers that it is wrong to expect the taxpayer to provide relief to a pension over €60,000. Except if they are ministers, obviously.
Depending on where you stand, the word “politics” means two things in Ireland. To people not holding public office, it mostly means the business of how the country is run. But to those within the political system, it seems, more and more, to mean a system of accessing very generous pay, pensions and benefits and the means of keeping them by remaining in office. Nearly every person I know who has worked in Irish government has remarked how life in government, at least at political level, is a series of panicked “Today’s Crisis Today” episodes where no one actually has any incentive as to actually doing anything for medium or long term reasons.
This government in particular is turning out to be quite shocking as it reveals that most of its ministers seem to have given almost no thought to what would happen the day after the election. Just think about all the major issues the government is dealing with. Most are driven by other people (The IMF, EU, the bond markets) or crisis (abortion). It’s hard to point to many major government areas of action that are being driven by a desire within Fine Gael and Labour to actually change something for the better. In fact, if you look at the Constitutional Convention, which is THEIR big political reform idea, they have gone out of their way to make sure that it doesn’t do anything of significance. And it was their idea!
What’s very apparent is that this government, like the one before it, regards spending other people’s money as pretty much the main purpose of government, and now that they have no money, they are too lacking in imagination to push the things they could do which would not cost much money. Take the issue of former ministers exorbitant pensions, or reducing the Dail by 20 seats, or scrapping upward only rent reviews. The govt parties talked about all three of these things in opposition. All could be changed by referendum. So why aren’t they?