New year, new hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions

Bray People - - COMMENT -

THE DAWN of the New Year brings with it hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions for the year ahead, re­newed op­ti­mism and a re­solve not to re­peat the er­rors of the past. We make res­o­lu­tions and strive to make our­selves and the world around us a bet­ter place and even if our com­mit­ment fails, we have at least demon­strated a de­sire to im­prove.

New Year's res­o­lu­tions are not just for the lit­tle peo­ple, ev­ery­body makes them, even the denizens of Le­in­ster House and in­deed there really is so much they can re­solve to do bet­ter. The government's per­for­mance thus far has been some­what milk and watery and, look­ing back on 2012, it's clear that the year was notably lack­ing in the sort of great en­deav­our that was hoped for from the coali­tion and is so badly needed to lift the coun­try out of the quag­mire of re­ces­sion.

The one ex­cep­tion could be the bud­get, which was huge in its scope and breadth, tak­ing €3.5 bil­lion out of the econ­omy to pay off the debts of a co­hort of greedy bankers. This broad stroke by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Michael Noo­nan was wel­comed by our Troika pay­mas­ters who are ob­vi­ously im­pressed with our com­mit­ment to aus­ter­ity and do­ing penance for the profli­gacy of our Tiger years. The bud­get also made quite an im­press­sion on the ci­ti­zens of Ire­land who have been bur­dened with a brand new prop­erty tax, along with a raft of other new and in­creased charges, cuts in the Car­ers Al­lowance, Chil­dren's Al­lowance, health and ed­u­ca­tion and many other ar­eas.

Min­is­ter Noo­nan's prow­ess with the axe aside, the rest of his col­leagues seemed to spend 2012 merely mud­dling along, with fail­ures rather than suc­cesses punc­tu­at­ing their progress. Stand­ing out amongst his peers in this re­gard was Health Min­is­ter James Reilly whose work has earned him the ti­tle of ‘worst per­form­ing min­is­ter in the government', ac­cord­ing to a Sun­day In­de­pen­dent/ Mil­ward Brown poll. Min­is­ter Reilly has had a tor­rid year, with the HSE run­ning mas­sively over bud­get and his per­sonal fi­nances at­tract­ing all the wrong kind of at­ten­tion as well. Then there was the con­tro­versy over pri­mary care cen­tres, which has left lin­ger­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of crony­ism, and se­ri­ous ques­tions re­main over his han­dling of the Savita case.

Such prob­lems haven't all been in the Fine Gael side of the government part­ner­ship; we re­cently had Labour's Pat Rabitte re­mind­ing the na­tion's vot­ers that elec­tion prom­ises are not to be taken at face value and cer­tainly not in an era of cut­backs. A ‘must try harder to tell the truth' res­o­lu­tion would ap­pear to be in or­der for the en­tire government, go­ing by Min­is­ter Rabitte's can­did ad­mis­sion.

With so much room for im­prove­ment, one might ex­pect to see more New Year's res­o­lu­tions coming out of Le­in­ster House than there were chil­dren's let­ters to Santa. One res­o­lu­tion that could make a great im­pact though is if Taoiseach Enda Kenny re­solved to carry out his com­mitt­ment to is­sue report cards to his minin­sters and to re­place those who are not per­form­ing. He would cer­tainly have his work cut out for him here but, af­ter all, we elected them to do a job and, God knows, we are paying them well enough so we are en­ti­tled to ex­pect a de­cent re­turn for our in­vest­ment of trust.

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