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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Conor Lenihan: This looks like the year when FG will have to walk the walk

The New Year will bring its own surprises, as well as the well-advertised prospect of an election.

The official forecast for economic growth is modest and, hopefully, will be surpassed. Ireland Inc is heading for economic recovery.

The danger is that a continued "talking down" of Ireland and the economy will impair that prospect.

There appeared to be more books on our crisis on the Christmas bookshelves, but less interest in actually reading them.

Pessimism

Last year saw four major doom-laden accounts, from Fintan O'Toole, Matt Cooper et al, but this year there seemed to be less impact, though more of them.

A British observer once remarked that the Irish were a " fair" people, as we never spoke well of ourselves or each other.

The recession-induced pessimism and negativism may be pushed aside once and for all in 2011.

Certainly the business community appears more positive than perhaps the population in general.

The KBC Bank and Chartered Accountants survey indicated a 61pc belief that the ECB/IMF intervention would be positive for the country. Business opinion tends to lead public opinion.

Hopefully the election campaign, if it is fought in March, will be framed on a positive.

There will be a change of Government, but of what stripe has yet to be clarified.

Trinity political scientist Michael Gallagher believes there is still too much volatility to be definitive about the result.

Surge

Given that Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour broadly share the same approach to the economy, it seems the Left and independents will do well in the election.

The surge in Sinn Fein's support is less to do with republicanism and more to do with registering a protest vote.

Parties of the Left and splinter groups may, in fact, hold the balance of power when the election is done and dusted.

The worry, from an economic point of view, is that the post-election scene may be even more politically unstable than we have experienced to date.

In that scenario a strong opposition will be needed if the new government is to be kept on its toes.

If Fine Gael and Labour are in power, they will have to eat a lot of their own words when in office.

The public knows they will have to deliver as much hard medicine as we have had to do.

Watching them do it will make for interesting viewing.

Conor Lenihan TD is Dail Deputy for Dublin South West and Minister for Science, Technology & Innovation

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