There has been a steadily growing debate among many in the political commentariat about the role of TDs. I say debate, in reality it has mainly been an exercise in bashing TDs for their constituency work, claiming that this has been at the cost of their national duties.
The curious hypocrisy of all this is that the pundits and political hacks who lambast TDs for doing constituency work would rather engage in and even fuel personality driven, who’s in and who’s out commentary rather than serious political analysis.
The past week has been a prime example. For most of it political coverage focussed on who might challenge Cowen, how they might do it, who might back this motion or that motion and what implications it would have for the people concerned.
Despite the hours of coverage of rumour and speculation, the much hyped confrontation never came to pass. I am not saying that the machinations in the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party did not merit coverage – but rumour and speculation is hardly news.
The tragic fact is that on the same days the media and political opposition were focussed on a Fianna Fáil leadership heave that never was we saw a number of major developments in the EU which may well shape the rest of 2011 both economically and politically.
While our news bulletins were transfixed by the prospect of a political soap opera at home Portugal and Spain announced that they had managed to borrow on the open bond market, Germany confirmed that it achieved an impressive 3.6% growth in 2010 and the European Central Bank warned of creeping inflation and rising prices.
These are significant developments in themselves, but even more significant was President Sarkozy’s unwarranted and unjustified attack on our Corporation Tax rates.
Curiously, these barely rated a mention from the leaders of the main opposition parties. But, why would either of them address major policy concerns when they could be playing personality politics?
However, the fact that these developments do not excite any interest from the opposition parties should not stop the thinking public from considering them.
As I discussed here some weeks ago, Ireland’s actions in accepting the EU/IMF support package was a vital step in saving the Euro from the ongoing market assaults.
Yes, Ireland’s membership of the Eurozone was vital in our withstanding the global downturn. Yes, the EU did come to Ireland’s support with the financial stability programme, but this was not some act of selfless altruism by disinterested neighbours.
The EU needed to halt the attacks on the Euro. It was cheaper for the EU to fight that battle on Irish economic soil than on Portuguese or Spanish territory.
To put it crudely, the EU owes Ireland. President Sarkozy needs to be reminded of this fact. Ireland will not be a whipping boy for Sarkozy’s campaign to restore his credibility at home.
This Government and its successor needs to remind President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel that we took a major hit to our international credibility and prestige, not to mention the political damage at home, at their behest. These, afterall, are the same two leaders whose idle comments and speculation started much of the pressure on the Euro and Ireland.
The FG /Lab government in waiting pride themselves on their membership of the two biggest political groupings in Europe – the Christian Democrats and the Socialists.
Sarkozy’s direct attack on Ireland’s interests, which he suggests has the backing of Merkel, throws down the gauntlet to FG in particular. What benefits does Ireland derive from their alignment with these leaders?
Perhaps Kenny would like to demonstrate this influence now and get their French and German allies to recant. All he has to do is put the same effort into refuting someone who attacks Ireland’s interests as he daily spends on attacking the government. It is not a huge ask of a man who thinks himself ready to lead.