Radical reform in the Republic is neither imminent nor necessary: try voting

Dipping from time to time into the Irish Times’ Renewing the Republic debate, summed up in the paper today. I’m struck by the sobriety of the whole exercise. The sign of a mature democracy is a torpid democracy, I’m afraid. Previous generations would have roused to rebellion. Thomas Davis, Michael Davitt, Jim Larkin and James Connolly, where are you now? There’s been a marked absence of the bankers’ equivalent of maiming a landlord’s cattle in Elaine Byrne’s upsum of the series today. What was new about the crisis was not recession as such but the suddenness of the collapse despite warnings, boosted by the tsuami effect of globalisation, first the surge, then the withdrawal. British observers should note that a written constitution and PR voting are not the be all and end all. Irish institutions are well developed already. State laws and regulations themselves are less at fault than their observance. The ancient traditions of the gombeen and agin the government linger on. Croneyism is a two edged sword; it helped develop valuable social partnerships as well as the unchecked drift to disaster during the huge speculative bubble. Talk of direct democracy is unlikely to produce quick results. More modest reforms as similarly mooted in Britain, like better financial regulation and a cap on openly declared political donations are essentials. Fianna Fail should no longer be allowed to pose as a superior “movement,” somehow superior to a mere party and acting like a state within the State (and sometimes above it ). It will be up to the voters to exercise their right to “throw the scoundrels out,” regardless of Brian Lenihan’s steadying of the ship. A change of government would be a breath of fresh air. Fine Gael and Labour in particular should take care to become worthier of the task than they are at present. Beware of too much consensus; it grows wool to pull over peoples’ eyes. Elaine Byrne extr

There will be no apologies or statements of regret from the political, financial or regulatory authorities. As Seán FitzPatrick said on RTÉ radio days after the September 2008 Government guarantee: “It would be very easy for me to say sorry, but the cause of our problem was global so I couldn’t say sorry with any degree of sincerity and decency but I do say thank you [to the Irish taxpayer].”
Patrick Neary, the financial regulator, was rewarded with an early retirement golden handshake of €630,000. Irish Nationwide’s Michael Fingleton retired with a €27 million pension fund and a €1 million bonus.
Seán FitzPatrick enjoys a large pension and got a €400,000 golden handshake. Former Anglo chief executive David Drumm went to Cape Cod with a €659,000 bonus. Anglo doesn’t expect €109 million of some €155 million owed by former directors to be repaid.

  • PJM

    What struck me about the series was that what emerged was a middle brow consensus that blamed bad people and bad decisions and looked for ways to prevent such people being in power – often by diluting the demcoratic system or by recruiting more youth/business people/volunteers etc into it.

    Very few commentators seemed to question the idea that the system itself was deeply flawed and that far from ‘stabilising’ things Lenihan has proceeded astonishingly slowly and with the evident intent of restoring the status quo ante.

    As for the idea that ‘past generations’ would have reacted more strongly. I’m afraid that has not been true for at least 90 years. The Irish people suffered savage economic conditions in the 1930s, 1950s, 1980s and now the 2010s without much disorder and remain the most conservative revolutionaries that ever there were.

  • Munsterview

    The fact that there has been little or no mass action from the public against the Dublin Government or it’s dreadful policies other than the pensioners successful mass mobilization is down to many factors, not least of which is the lack of a united opposition or the emergence of credible alternative leaders.

    The general mood is one of still taking stock, a ‘ we are where we are’ attitude ( successfully sold by FIanna Failure ) has taken hold, people are still shellshocked but they are not idiots. The opinion poll may be saying one thing but when it comes to a choice between a seemingly competent, articulate and confident Brian Lenihan and the doddering, prevaricating, indecisive Enda Kenny, then it quickly becomes a case of the ‘devil you know…….’

    Some months back John O’Donoghue was in the brown stuff up to his armpits and in the toilet bowl we had the spectacle of Enda dancing around for days pointing and shouting, ” look at him…… do ye all see him…… what are you going to do about him Taoiseach ” etc. The man increasingly seen as the real leader of the opposition, Eamonn Gilmore quietly reached past him and flushed the toilet ending O’Donoghue’s career and the farce.

    Enda’s next big idea to counter all the negative publicity against him ?, announce the abolition of the Senate…….. without first having enough political nowss, or indeed common curtsey to first inform his own Fine Gael Party Senators. It was, and seen to be stroke politics of the most blatant kind and why go to F.G. for that, Fianna Failure can do it better and nobody expects less from them!

    We need mass street politics to ignite before there can be mass opposition. Labour needs to look potential governmental, they will not lead such a campaign, Sinn Fein in the South are trying to look parliamentarian and are finished with street politics and as for the Trade Unions, the public services sectors of this are clearly seen to have a ‘ f*** you Jack I’m all right, what we have we hold’ attitude and they have little credibility with a devastated public.

    There can be few other countries in Europe as blessed and fortunate with it’s opposition as this Fianna Failure led one in the South is. That is not to say that something like the Pensioners Protest will not come out of the blue, the latter showed the depth of anger there was out there. The Joe Duffy/Pat Kenny shows give daily demonstration that the anger pot is still on the boil.

    There is currently no outlet for this public anger other than talk shows. If a suitable one presents and there is a credible force to harness and direct this anger, then we will see how complacent the general public are. It is not all over yet in the South, it aint even started!

  • wee buns

    It was on the front page of one of the tabloids that the bankers ‘should be shot.’
    A metaphorical one-liner outlet.
    Please, please, let them vent their spleens.
    Woefull is not the word for it.

  • Scaramoosh

    The Republic is a failed state; with failed political parties; crumbling foundations and devoid of any collective vision.

    There is no doubt that in a bygone age the bankers, property developers and priests would have been strung up by the roadside.

    That this has not happened can be attributed to a number of factors; first, because the revolutionary spirit has been eroded by blind materialism; second, because those that are still prepared to resort to arms remain under the delusion that they are the true government of Ireland and that it is their mission to achieve Irish independence.

    A vote for Fine Gael, Labour or Sinn Fein does not represent a revolutionary act. It will not free the Irish people from what lies ahead; paying off their debts for the next thirty years.