Rainbow fluffy clouds arrive for €€€€€€€ government giveaway
Published 11/02/2016 | 22:00
AS if we needed reminding that we live in a small island nation, the coverage of the mooted General Election date of February 26 confirmed it.
The first time the February 26 date was mentioned was in October 2015. This was before much wringing of hands (and necks, no doubt), in Dáil offices and newsrooms, about a possible post Budget date in November.
All kinds of scenarios were played out from government party fears about patients on hospital trolleys negatively affecting polls and voters, to clashes with rugby matches and coalition squabbling.
If as much as issue was made about the Zika virus or people's medical cards, maybe the country would be more enlightened and healthier.
Coinciding with an incredible series of press release announcements heralding good news, was the arrival of stunning rainbow coloured clouds in the skies across Leinster.
The fluffy news releases from government ministers and TDs from Wicklow and Wexford last week announced that around €40 million in funding for roads, nursing homes, flood works and houses would be provided, along with €230m for the New Ross bypass, which will dispense with a horrendous bottleneck in the South East by 2019.
This follows a giveaway Budget which has seen all USC workers' pay packets increased significantly.
We've also had the recent introduction of the U6 free GP healthcare and promises of a standard €2 per hour childcare initiative, to be supplemented by the government.
It's a case of you name it and its yours in these heady pre-election days.
Parks and 'public realms' are being built across the east coast and further afield. There is even a plan for the government to pay 30 per cent of the rent of young workers in our cities. The workers seeking a home in our major cities will have 30 per cent of their rent paid by the State in a scheme aimed at allowing them live close to where they work.
Hopefully all these promises aren't as immaterial as the pretty rainbow clouds above.
Having spoken to numerous people about the election in recent months, it is clear that the truth, whether it is uttered by Independent TDs or government ministers, resonates with people.
Those politicians who have faced public umbrage head on can expect to do well. Those who have gone hiding will not be found on ballot papers.
Although the Fine Gael and Labour government has had many successes, there is still a feeling in the pit of many people's stomachs that they have been wronged. The wronging may have occurred in the Noughties, but the blame is like a contagion. It has spread to the current government, fairly or unfairly.
Families have had to endure 'Skype' relationships with their nearest and dearest. People have had their medical cards taken off them. Parents have had to pay mortgage-like childcare fees. The self employed have been hammered and have been made to suffer for having the bravery to go into business for themselves. Crime victims have been left frustrated. There is a reverse Robin Hood feeling about the government who have, at times, been slow to approach budgets with enough perspective.
Roll on February 26. I can't wait to see the end of it. Whoever makes it into power, they need to ensure that fiscal, social and economic responsibility is at the centre of their schemes as if not we will have another Thursday or Friday debate in the not-too-distant future to contend with.