Enda/Ea­mon deal to be a mar­riage of sorts

Bray People - - OPINION - AI­DAN O’CON­NOR

IWONDER if the coali­tion deal took the form of a Catholic mar­riage where vows are ex­changed – a prom­ise that you’ll stick by your part­ner for life, no mat­ter what. Who knows, maybe some­where in a back room while those draft­ing a span new pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment were hard at work, Enda and Ea­mon might have held hands and looked each other in the eyes as they pledged mu­tual un­con­di­tional love.

Many of the older gen­er­a­tion be­lieve that mar­riage isn’t what it used to be. These days, it’s just too easy to in­flate the life­jacket and jump as soon as the love ship hits a storm. Coali­tion gov­ern­ments were al­ways like that. For a while, all seemed re­laxed and lovey-dovey. But in­vari­ably – once the hon­ey­moon pe­riod was over and the re­al­i­ties of a long-term re­la­tion­ship hit home, the two part­ners be­gan sleep­ing in sep­a­rate rooms, com­mu­ni­ca­tion broke down and one of them ended up hav­ing an af­fair with one of the Op­po­si­tion par­ties.

To be fair, Enda and Ea­mon have got off to a good start. For­get the silly bick­er­ing that went on dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign – that was all just a form of flirt­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent guise. What ul­ti­mately has tran­spired is an agree­ment to get this lit­tle coun­try out of the big, black hole it was landed in.

At the root of any good mar­riage or re­la­tion­ship is com­pro­mise, and Enda and Ea­mon have ap­peared to have used that much as the ba­sis of their new-found love.

But of course, com­pro­mise has its price too. There is al­ways the dan­ger that ei­ther or both lovers could lose their in­di­vid­u­al­ity. Too much com­pro­mise forces you to wa­ter down your strong per­son­al­ity – the very thing that may have at­tracted your part­ner to you in the first in­stance. And when the de­tail of this Coali­tion’s Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment is scru­ti­nised, all of us – the kids in the mar­riage – will dis­cover that much of what we ini­tially hoped for is no longer part of the plan.

For starters, the first loom­ing row over which party would take the Fi­nance port­fo­lio was staved off by the ultimate Ir­ish so­lu­tion: give both par­ties a bit of the ac­tion. So we’ll have two Fi­nance Min­is­ters, not one. De­spite Fine Gael’s pre-elec­tion de­ter­mi­na­tion to keep 2014 as the tar­get date for re­duc­ing the deficit by 3pc, it’s now gone back a year to 2015. For one rea­son and one rea­son only, they did this to meet Labour half way on their tar­get date of 2016.

Funny enough, the com­pro­mise date is ex­actly what Europe has been sug­gest­ing all along. And within a few days, Fine Gael’s prom­ise to de­liver 30,000 vol­un­tary re­dun­dan­cies in the pub­lic sec­tor has also changed in an ef­fort to main­tain the loy­alty of their new lovers. Labour wanted just 18,000.

So both par­ties have met in the mid­dle, aim­ing for be­tween 18,000 and 21,000 for the first two years with scope for a fur­ther 5,000 there­after. We’ve all heard about Dr James Reilly and Fine Gael’s ob­ses­sion with a pri­va­tised health sys­tem that is based on the Dutch model. Well, in the name of love, the Blueshirts have ac­com­mo­dated Labour and both are agreed on a Uni­ver­sal Health In­surance. They’ll abol­ish the HSE too, in time, but they’ll have shared many the night in bed to­gether be­fore this will ac­tu­ally come about.

Its’ not writ­ten any­where in the new Pro­gramme for Gov­ern­ment doc­u­ment, but surely Enda and Ea­mon must have whis­pered in each other’s ear: ‘Let’s learn from past re­la­tion­ships’. Be­cause the great­est les­son of all in how not to con­duct your­self in a mar­riage was given by Fianna Fail and the Greens in the last Gov­ern­ment.

To be hon­est, John Gorm­ley and the Greens mar­ried above them­selves. Cowen was al­ways wear­ing the pants in that re­la­tion­ship. In the end, Fianna Fail fell out of love with their part­ners, sim­ply be­cause they loved them­selves too much. Com­pro­mise went out the bed­room win­dow.

They say that good mar­riages take work. It’s pos­si­ble that two lovers can grow more in love as time goes by. Just like mar­riage, coali­tion deals are a work in progress. The hon­ey­moon is and should be no more than a hint of the good times to come. We need this mar­riage to work, now more than ever.

There’s even an ar­gu­ment to be put for­ward for Enda and Ea­mon staying to­gether for the sake of the kids – us, the tax­pay­ers. What we don’t need now is a fling; a one-night stand. We need some­thing more sta­ble where Enda and Ea­mon re­main com­mit­ted to each other and to us.

That way, home is a much happier place. Ea­mon Gil­more and his party have had their flings in the past, pri­mar­ily with Fianna Fail, some good and some not so good.

It’s time now for him to set­tle down. Enda has long been the brides­maid of Ir­ish pol­i­tics. He’s fi­nally got his chance to walk up the aisle and com­mit to a part­ner that he’s in this thing for the long haul, for bet­ter or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sick­ness and in health. Here’s hop­ing they’ll grow a lit­tle bit older to­gether. Any­way, we just can’t af­ford an­other di­vorce.

At the root of any good mar­riage is com­pro­mise, and Enda and Ea­mon have used that as the ba­sis of their new-found love

There’s an ar­gu­ment to be put for­ward for Enda and Ea­mon staying to­gether for the sake of the kids – us, the tax­pay­ers.

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