Sunday 21 January 2018

FF Minister says it's time for National Government

A junior minister today said a national government would be "a good idea".

Going further than coalition partner John Gormley's calls for a national consensus, Minister Conor Lenihan said it might now be time Fianna Fail and Fine Gael "buried the hatchet" on their differences.

Mr Lenihan said it made huge sense to get some measure of opposition backing for any austerity plan if it is to convince those outside Ireland that we're serious about getting ourselves out of recession while mending public finances.

"In fact there are strong arguments not just for a national consensus but also for, in effect, a national government of sorts," he writes in today's Herald.

He said voters in Ireland were mature enough to know that no matter who was in power right now, they would have to impose cuts to public spending and insist on austerity.

Parties that claimed they would do austerity in some other "painless" fashion were only fooling themselves and not the voters.

"That is why a 'national consensus' as proposed by John Gormley, or even a national government, is a good idea," he writes.

He notes that Fine Gael's Lucinda Creighton, while preferring having an election, was not all that averse to the notion of a national government.

"The public, in any event, do not see much difference between the two major parties and it may be high time that both parties buried the hatchet on their differences that now belong to a history now long gone," he said

Mr Lenihan, the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, said there were deep worries in his own party and Fine Gael that Labour, even if in coalition with either party, wouldn't be able to tackle the challenge of public service reform because of their close and substantially unreformed links to the country's trade unions.

"Labour in government will not have a stomach to stand up to the public service trade unions that financially fund them and give them help on the ground when it comes to election time, a fact not lost to many at this particular time," he said.

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