How not to run a government

I haven’t written here for a while and in the main I’ve just been too busy. I’ve exams coming up, I am in class most nights and I am busy in work as well. Yesterday was a typical enough day when I was on the 7.30 (train) up to Dublin in the AM and didn’t get back to base again until the 21.10 home. Busy but happy. Am greatly enjoying the study of the law, though it’s a slog and it’s been busy in work at the same time, I much prefer to be kept busy. I doubt I’d be doing this course if I’d been elected to the council, I would have been throwing my energies into the local arena, but as I’ve said before there’s only so much an unelected activist can do without a platform or a seat at the table. I plan to run again but the extra education and life experience will stand me in good stead either way, if I do later become a public representative a legal background will never be any harm.

On more general matters I’ve been watching events unfold on the national and European scene. Interesting if worrying that Portugal has now succumbed to an IMF bailout also. One has to wonder if parliament had held their nerve and passed their austerity budget would it have come to this. They chose to bring the house down and take their chances and will probably end up with similar if not harsher measures now anyway. Perhaps the politicians there thought if they could be seen to go down fighting they could escape an electoral bloodbath. They may just be punished now for shirking responsibility, I doubt they will escape political repercussion whatever happens.

It’s tempting to point to this and a follow-on predicted EU/IMF bailout for Spain and say Ireland wasn’t so bad, sure it’s happening across the EU. And that would be partly true. But just like the Portuguese, that doesn’t absolve the government here. Obviously the bank guarantee and other decisions will prove to have been critical along the way (although we still don’t know what the alternative would have been, even more so since the stark refusal of EU to sanction any kind of default within the community – including letting any bank fail – but I simply don’t know all the answers here, don’t think anyone does). But all that aside, what did for Fianna Fáil in the end was the attitude. Not the attitude of Fianna Fáil members up and down the country and I’ve spoken on that theme before, but I mean Fianna Fáil in government and the Ministers etc. It is simply unbelievable that in the middle of all this they saw (or at least appeared to see) nothing wrong with running for the hills with their satchels loaded. They may well have worked hard through their careers, and of course there were legal entitlements, but these were not normal times. There are senses of perspective sometimes needed and many let their party (and country) down badly. The perception projected out of government buildings right up to the end was one of business as usual with very little sense of adaptation or even awareness of a crisis. I am sure it was a hellish place to be towards the end, a bit of the Berlin bunker or Saigon rooftop about it, but it didn’t have to be that way. The Irish people are forgiving, they are understanding and with a bit of honest leadership and a real willingness to engage and a courage to lead it could have been Fianna Fáil’s finest hour. Brian Lenihan did manage to muster some of that spirit for a while but even he lost it at the end when it all just became too much talk. There are lessons to be learned from history as always. I think “Tell it straight, talk the talk but most of all walk the walk” about sums it up.

2 Replies to “How not to run a government”

  1. Conor Reidy

    Your final quote pretty much sums it up, one of the greatest difficulties I found while canvassing for Fianna Fáil in the last general election was to a vast chunk of the electorate we were deemed to be devoid of all credibility. That anything we said just couldn’t be taken at face value, couldn’t be trusted.

    The final straw for many were the farcical scenes the week before the IMF descended upon our shores, the sight of senior government ministers staunchly denying than any bailout was needed, indeed that it wasn’t even being contemplated, it had the air of Saddam Hussein’s Minister for Information claiming the Iraqi Army would prevail as American tanks rolled into Baghdad.

    I hope you are right and that the Irish people are a forgiving race, for unfortunately we have much to repent for.

  2. Sean Brennan

    Agree with your piece above. It is surprising that FF are not getting the blame for the IMF now visiting Portugal. It has to be added that the media and all the negativity portrayed by them, must take its fair share of responsibility for the slow upturn in the economy. We have been known to be a nation of leading the pack rather than following the heard. i.e Saints and Scholers, Live Aid dontations, Plastic Bag ban, Smoking ban etc. So with a bit more of that positive Irish spirit fostered by our people will help harness Europes upturn. But honest communications is key here.

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