Wednesday 23 January 2019

Coalition has no opposition -- and that's bad for us all

Imagine Barcelona turning up to play themselves in the Champions League final? Or can you see Leinster and Jonny Sexton having to face playing into an empty field because there is no opposing team. Be kind of weird wouldn't it ?

Well, that's exactly what we have with our Coalition Government. Have you noticed the complete lack of a meaningful Opposition as the Coalition stumble over themselves?

Fianna Fail have vanished, the Shinners have gone God knows where, while the rest mooch around trying hard to look like parliamentarians.

Now I was sure I heard an FF deputy, Michael McGrath, attacking something at the weekend but maybe I was delusional after all the heat and the craic at Listowel Writers Week Festival. I do know one FFer was spotted a week ago hanging around Kildare Street when Big Phil Hogan announced the water tax that wasn't a water tax.


The point is, as Labour minister Pat Rabbitte pointed out to Sam Smyth, that the Government is now its own opposition. Yup they are opposing themselves, God bless them. Maybe they should get salary increases. Double jobbing ain't easy but internal critics in FG and Labour appear to be the only ones raising questions about the Government.

We've seen some fine performance from this new 'opposition'. Emperor Enda K put in a great tackle on Richard Bruton when the heir to the throne announced plans to tackle wage agreements for the low paid. This was followed by various Labour defenders ploughing in with their two pence worth. But the best new Opposition attack came from that old reliable slugger Leo the Lip Varadkar who told Emperor Enda that he had no clothes on. Leo did this when he echoed what most people think about the latest bank bailout, namely that it's not going to work. Very good effective opposition tactics except that Leo is in Government.

And that's the problem. It is a dangerous thing for democracy when you don't have an effective functioning opposition. There is no proper check on the decision-making process. Worst of all, there is no accountability. Ministers don't have to be sharp, don't have to try to hold up pre-election promises Why do we have this problem?

For one, the size of the Government majority. It is very hard to fight against it if you're sitting on the opposition benches.

Also, the fact that the Government is basically implementing the same policies as the previous administration means FF cannot criticise too much.

Anyway, in the face of any attack, the Government can argue their hands are tied by the IMF-EU deal.

And, finally, when you do ask the socialist-leaning deputies on the opposition benches how they would manage our economic woes, well the responses are not awe-inspiring.


Kenny and company know the danger for now is from within. As time goes on, the lads and lassies who didn't get a ministry start getting restless, sniping at ministers and any unpopular decision.

Enda has now had to create a new series of party committees within Fine Gael. The committee gives people a sense of importance. Committees can have meetings and God knows fellas who have nothing to do love meetings. Ever notice that in the workplace?

However, the danger of no opposition still lurks. It breeds arrogance. You can hear it occasionally in the tone of one or two ministers. Arrogance did for the last Government who were so used to power that they left the developers and bankers to run riot.

We need good effective opposition. But it looks as if the Coalition have only themselves to fear.

And that is something for you and me to fear.

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