herald

Monday 21 January 2019

Our ministers face a long, hot summer as problems near boiling point

TEMPERATURE theory goes like this -- it is only when the heat is turned up that you really see people's true colours.

Over the next few months, a political and financial heatwave is going to hit this Government. Will the Coalition stick by their election promises or will they melt into to ash?

A huge Dail majority means that Kenny and Co can afford a bit of dissent. However, it takes just one spark to ignite a truly major fire.

Already Enda Kenny has isolated Richard Bruton on the issue of pay cuts. The Taoiseach can play this game for now. He enjoys high popularity in the wake of Queen Elizabeth and President Obama's visits. But that won't last forever.

First off we have the minor problem of the Presidency. Fine Gael's Phil Hogan, who helped mastermind the last European and General Election campaigns, is desperately looking for someone with charisma and ability to run. I understand that in recent weeks FG have approached a number of high profile sporting person-alities. Within the ranks Mairead McGuinness wants it badly but is not seen as the ideal candidate. Kenny cannot afford to lose a Presidential election eight months into power.



revenge

The temperature has risen even further with John Bruton's refusal to accept the nomination. Some interpret this as 'revenge' for Enda Kenny not backing Richard Bruton over his wage cuts proposal. While that may be an over-simplistic analysis, there are divisions within the Blue Shirts, as there are in Labour. That is normal in politics but it does turn up the heat a degree.

Which brings us to the second source of the heat-wave -- Richard Bruton.

Richard is a decent politician. This makes it all the more baffling that he would push for a cut in wages paid to lower income groups.

Either he has been led up the garden path by depart-ment officials and his party,

Or else he is incredibly naive. His proposal will achieve little other than to bury any future leadership ambitions. Now no one in FG would start such a fire to scupper him, would they? Eamon Gilmore came out yesterday to douse the flames on the pay cut issue but sooner or later it will reignite.

The biggest fire though will come from Ireland's very own Mount Etna -- the Banking Volcano.

After the last eruption we were assured that the latest bailout was to be the last. Then Leo Varadkar pops up at the weekend and says we might need another bailout. Oops! Ah sure, what's a bail-out between friends.

Except we have no friends in Europe.



flawed

Enda Kenny keeps repeating that Ireland will pay all of its debts. It is a flawed idea. Firstly, we cannot -- we simply won't have the money. Secondly, he believes we must send this message out to the markets so that they have confidence in Ireland's future. That would be fine if the markets thought there was a grain of truth in it. But alas they don't believe a word.

The French and Germans have finally accepted that there may have to be restructuring of Greek debt .

They won't call it that but it will happen through some complicated financial chicanery.

If it doesn't and Greece defaults, it has major implications for us and the euro.

The heat of the euro bushfire is growing not just in Greece, but also in countries like Italy and Spain as they come under scrutiny.

Our Government is in danger of becoming trapped by these flames.

They will be cut off on one hand by the punitive terms of the EU/IMF deal and on the other by an economy so overburdened that it cannot grow its way out of trouble.

Throw in more homes being repossessed, unemployment rising and you near the boiling point.

Make no mistake about it, we are in for a long hot summer.

We are about to find out just what this Government is made of.

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