I’ve a lot of time for Fine Gael. Let alone some of my friends, some of my family would be Fine Gael. Government is about change and it’s also about giving hope. To be fair
this government has at least had the competence and credibility that its predecessor could only envy. Credibility is a valuable currency, it can be earned and built on but when its lost its
lost and gone for ever. Enda Kenny may not be a Garret Fitzgerald but he’s no Brian Cowen either. That’s why his government is credible.
Both Labour and fine Gael ran on different policies during the General Election ironically side showing the outgoing government intellectually in debates. Despite this the present government is working well as it has put together a reasonable compromise programme for government.
Most objective people recognise this. So then why did Fine Gael wish to celebrate a year in government and on the day that the state owned bank AIB announced 2,500 job losses with the
Occupy Merrion Square stunt?
Interestingly the celebrations wished to highlight Fine Gael achievement in government as opposed to Government achivements. There are many government achievements that should be flagged; Anglo bondholders burnt, Minimum wage restored, Interest rate cut on the bail out,
continued adherence to the troika bailout package, household tax in place, successful promotion of the state by Obama and QE2 visit. While much needs to be done on reducing
unemployment the government has made a start on rebuilding a shattered economy,
but is it not too early and too little to celebrate? The country has stabilised but has it turned
the corner? I’m not so sure about that
What made Fine Gael different at the last election was the wish to end gaelige in our schools, restore stag hunting and abolish joint labour agreements and fillet the public service by 30,000. This clearly hasn’t happened and won’t be happening. Many Fine Gael backbenchers have called for the ending of the Croke Park Agreement. That hasn’t happened and it won’t be happening either. It’s due to run about 2 more years and will be renegotiated next year. It may well be a better year to renegotiate than this year. Economic conditions may allow a better deal for public sector workers in the future than at present. I suspect a few Fine Gael TD’s may think this too and see a closing window on their hopes for putting the boot into civilservants.
It may well be a matter of less to celebrate into the future for the back benchers. Earlier this week I was at a meeting organised by the INTO highlighting how the cutbacks in education had impacted in Wexford at primary level. While there was realism among the teachers as to how deep the financial trouble remains, there were few celebrations. So it will continue for sometime