Time to face harsh reality

THERE is no doubt but that the Irish people have more than shouldered the weight of the recession. But, unlike the Greeks, they have done so without lashing out out at the establishment.

THERE is no doubt but that the Irish people have more than shouldered the weight of the recession. But, unlike the Greeks, they have done so without lashing out out at the establishment.

In February the people kicked out Fianna Fail with some relish. However, in doing so they elected a replacement Government which is made up of two parties in the centre of Irish politics also occupied by FF.

The election was symbolic of how the public have dealt with the recession. In electing Fine Gael and Labour we opted for a safe bet and middle of the road politicians that would steady the ship.

But, like Fianna Fail who deluded themselves in their final months in office, was the election a sign that the people were on a similar path in terms of facing the truth about the country and where it is going?

The public went along with Bertie Ahern and co when told that there was going to be a soft landing. Arguably, we had no choice because the doomsday scenario painted by some was just impossible to stomach.

So, we all ‘stayed on message’ and re-elected FF in 2007. But the bubble soon burst. The result: unemployment, emigration, and to all intents and purposes - bankruptcy. The country is now being run on borrowings.

But we know all that . So what, you might say.

We elected the new Government for several reasons. Revenge was high on the agenda. Change of leadership was another factor and a new approach to tackling the banks was also promised.

In fairness to Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore they never promised things would get easier after the election.

They promised change and improvement in the long term. But they made some key commitments, especially the promise of a better bailout deal than brokered by FF.

Just 100 days ago we accepted their messages and promises. We put our trust in them because we were all optimistic that they could help the country crawl out of the hole it’s in.

But in some ways the majority behaved in the same way after Bertie promised a soft landing. Passively, we have gone along with something because the alternative was so awful.

The FG/Lab coalition is doing alright but it has yet to make any real inroads on the big issues. The IMF/EU deal has not been renegotiated while unemployment grows. But, water charges are on the way and cutbacks continue. County councils do not even have the money to line roads or fill potholes.

The middle ground of voters who opted for this Government were obviously the people with most to lose. Understandably, they baulked at the warnings of default and other radical alternatives to IMF/EU aid and bank bailouts.

But, Irish history shows that the more we accept the status quo,, the more of it we will get. However, the past also shows that when pushed to the edge the Irish will react more than the people of any other nation.