As the FG/Lab government heads into its last full year, a constant thought hangs around the dark cobwebs of my mind. I’ve written about it before, in an attempt to exorcise it, yet it remains. In my mind’s eye, I just can’t shake the image of Day of The Count 2016 (we really should have a formal name for it) where scores of young first-term Labour and Fine Gael TDs will look on stunned not only as they lose their seats to Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein and others, but realise what it all actually means.
Many will have served originally as county councillors, frustrated at the lack of power, eager to get into the Dail and change the country. Now, five years later, they will be hated for making the decisions that saved the country, hounded out by many of the very people whose recklessness with public spending caused so many of the problems in the first place.
But even that’s not the worst bit: as they watch young Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail candidates take their seats off them, it’ll dawn on them that not only have they carried the burden of hate for making hard choices, but they have given FF and SF ALL THE POWER too. By not turning the Dail into a separate legislature with a chairperson answerable not to the government but the members, by not reforming the Seanad, by not creating proper elected mayors with tax raising powers, they have put themselves right back where they started, the exception being that the people who have just beaten them won’t be as hated as they were because they made all the hard decisions for them.
Wouldn’t you think they’d have the reforms in place if only to be able to use them if they found themselves outside government once again?
By failing to change the political system when they have the chance, by failing to stand up to the elderly Don’t-Change-Anything/Know-Your-Place-Boy people who lead their parties, the young FG and Lab TDs, all staring into political oblivion, have revealed themselves to be either the most nobly self-sacrificing group in Irish politics, laying down their political careers so that Enda and Joan can feel comfortable, or the most stupid group of people to ever collectively sit in Dail Eireann.