Here’s something to ponder. On the night of the bank guarantee it seems reasonable to assume that only a handful of people in the country would have the intellectual ability and technical skill to have recognised that the plan, in its form at the time, was flawed. Certainly, it looks like neither the Taoiseach nor the finance minister knew. One man who might have been able to see the flaws is the man who is now governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan. So here’s my question: Would any of the political reforms advocated by any of the main parties, if they had been in place at the time, have ensured that someone like the good professor would have been in the right place (the cabinet) at the right time? If the Dail met twice as long, as Eamonn Gilmore suggests? Would that have changed anything? If the Seanad didn’t exist? If the Dail was 146 seats instead of 166. Would we have avoided the mistake we made that night? Do you see my point?
Now, Fianna Fail say that under their proposals, a minister could be appointed from outside the Dail. This is true. But Fianna Fail could have done that in government under the current arrangements, through the Seanad, and didn’t. They could have amended the law to appoint non-TD experts as ministers of state, but they didn’t, because large numbers of Fianna Fail TDs saw being a junior minister as a perk and source of cash, as opposed to a position of responsibility.
Here’s the saddest thing that will come out of Election 2011. Does anyone outside the three main parties really hand-on-heart believe that our political system will never again allow a f**k-up on this scale again?
Additional: Fine Gael have also said that we have to reduce the presidential term from seven to five years? Seriously? That’s a problem? Another example of how Fine Gael’s proposals on political reform are for the most part just plain gimmicks.