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Great Expectations

6.09.2005

Following the past week of public service debacles at the hands f the PD I am moved to have the slightest piece of sympathy for their plight. They have presided over what others have helped create and reaped the poisoned reward of consummate state control and a vicious culture of self interest and non-regulation. Having said that, I am also delighted, that the self-propagated myth around the PDs that they are a reformers party full of morally correct individuals has fallen down around their ears. In moving to health Harney should have made plain the mess the place was in. if she did that it would have been more feasible to maintain that progress would be slow and come in small victories. Instead the PDs focus on the big policy and the big kill, a David and Goliath situation for the small party. There is a chronic lack of realism present in our political culture at the moment. Any time a situation or issue comes up; the government reacts in an unwieldy and over zealous manner. The result is an array of promises that crisis X will never happen again as we now have foolproof yet rushed legislation/policy.
This reaction masks two major pitfalls which have dogged government since Lemass.
1.) Is the vainglorious attitude of offering big solutions to big problems and not entering into an honest conversation and debate with the people. No one on the inside really wishes to outline the genuine difficulty of reforming a country full of self interest and an almost nihilistic attitude to public service.
2.)The second is accepting that the power of politicians is limited and can achieve gains in a fashion of stop start and slowly slowly. It is a sad indictment of the openness of our culture that we know this is happening and say nothing.
If a real progressive consensus is to develop in Ireland and take root in the national psyche the leaders must be led and vice versa. It is hard to tell the truth when it is underwhelming. It is hard to indulge in realism when it offers little short term gain. This government needs to begin looking at long term strategy and committing political and economic resources to getting a messy and slow job done. Perhaps akin to the port tunnel it will be inconvenient disliked and upon being finished receive a muted response but it will be worth it. A good country requires politicians who know more than how to grab a headline. The recent reports and perhaps the forthcoming result from the health and children commission show us all that a deep rot has set in and some serious strategy and graft is required to do the job.
My money is not on the PDs who look unlikely to be back in the bosom of government in two years and will derive little good from such decisions. However a party like FF could take the projects on with good people and reap genuine long term reward for their effort. Neither of the above think in terms of the good of the nation, unless you can measure such good in euros and cent. That is why I am pinning some hope on a good election campaign to bring such issues to the fore. Ironically an understated and not overly inflated set of promises from the new rainbow may be just the trick to get voters onside. Realism wins elections once in a while too.
Red Rover

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