AS the North of Ireland closes down this Friday for the 12th of July marches, down south
Dáil and Seanad Éireann are shutting up shop for their summer recess with no more sittings until mid-September. There will be some activity involving various Oireachtas committees and, of course, senior and junior ministers will be working for another few weeks, most with an eye towards Budget 2020, which will be the main focus for our legislators when they return just three weeks before it is due to be announced on October 8th next.
After a chaotic few months, our TDs and senators will relish the break and, hopefully, come back refreshed and more determined to lift the country out of the mire of uncertainty it finds itself in, largely, it must be said, caused by the problems created by Brexit. It will be interesting to see if any radical new thinking will emerge from the political parties’ ‘think tanks’ that usually takes place in the first half of September.
While the chaos that surrounds Brexit, as we await the coronation later this month of a new Conservative Party leader who will take over from the hapless Theresa May as British Prime Minister, is outside of our control, there are several problem areas here that we could and should be doing more to address, including the perennial public housing and health sector crises.
One gets the impression that the departments involved are just about capable of mitigating as far as they can the damage these problems are causing rather than coming up with any radical solutions to actually solve them. The respective ministers are lurching from one crisis to the next and what small progress they have made is dwarfed by the sheer scale of the tasks at hand.
The government, as a whole, has had to endure the embarrassment of outrageous cost overruns on flagship capital projects such as the National Children’s Hospital and the National Broadband Plan. It has taken less than this to bring down governments in the past, but Fianna Fáil has pledged to keep the Fine Gael-led minority government in office – come what may, it seems – until after Britain leaves the European Union in order to main the type of political stability here that is lacking across the pond and give the government a fighting chance of addressing the fall-out from Brexit, which is due to happen by the extended deadline of October 31st next.
The Irish government has to hedge its bets by having two versions of Budget 2020, a benign one to deal with an orderly agreed withdrawal and a more radical one to counteract the serious consequences of a ‘no-deal Brexit.’ If the latter happens, Fianna Fáil can hardly pull the plug on the government too quickly afterwards in the midst of the chaos this would cause, opening up the possibility of it running its full five-year term.
This would result in more of the same old same old, which the electorate has already tired of.