Editorial: Government now treading water

The Government parties drop in the polls is hardly astounding considering they are over a year in power, the honeymoon is well and truly over, and severe budgetary and financial measures are ongoing.

The Government parties drop in the polls is hardly astounding considering they are over a year in power, the honeymoon is well and truly over, and severe budgetary and financial measures are ongoing.

Austerity is impacting deeply on everyone, and there seems to be little light at the end of the tunnel. All these factors, notwithstanding, the Government has brought a lot of this opprobrium upon itself.

Its handling of a number of issues, not least the household charge, and water metering, has left a lot to be desired.

The handling, or mishandling, of these two initiatives has been almost breathtaking.

The cumulutative effect has been to erode a lot of the confidence which greeted the arrival of this administration. The introduction of the household charge has been shambolic. On a number of fronts it has been a disaster.

An unpopular measure to start with, the government compounded its problems by making the payment of it difficult for a number of people. Closing off the easy accessibility of payment through such avenues as post offices was crazy and shortsighted.

Consider the lack of fuss over the payment of the annual TV licence which, at €160 is more expensive, and the scale of the debacle becomes ever more clearer.

Of course it can be rightly argued that a large segment of the population were going to register their protest at this charge, and by extension the larger austerity measures as a whole.

But this administration played right into their hands through their hamfisted approach on the whole issue, and the confusion in communication. Similarly the confusion over the water meter charges is a text book case of how not to introduce policy.

There have been a number of mixed signals on it, from the cost of the installation of meters to the annual maintenance charge.

The Government has not been message which is truly remarkable. It’s not as if these measures are new. ideas. They have been on the agenda for quite some time, allowing for, at the very least, an effective approach to be taken.

Instead, confusion and mixed messages have been the order of the day.

One can only wonder where are these top advisers with their exorbitant salaries, which are a sheer affront to a public shouldering the brunt of austerity.

And what of the various respective government departments

The worst charge that can be laid at the door of this coalition is that they are beginning to take on the hue of their predecessors in being inept. It smacks of hubris.

Policymakers should remember that the Irish public has displayed responsibility and fortitude in accepting austerity.

Compared to many of our European neighbours, we are a quiet people.

This should not be taken for granted.

The Government should not compound its own self inflicted errors any further.

It has done much that is laudable, but on these major policy planks, it has been lacking.

There are few second chances.