Controversial deal gives Ireland a new government

A minority government has emerged in Ireland under the conservative Fine Gael party led by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The liberal Fianna Fáil has agreed to back the government. A precondition for the historic agreement was the repeal of the controversial water charges. Commentators criticise the deal.

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Irish Independent (IE) /

We need a courageous government

Ireland's new minority government's decision to revoke the controversial water tax after just two years does not bode well for the country, The Irish Independent fears:

“If anyone believes that there is not a link between our highest-in-the-EU consumption and the fact that we are unique in not paying on the basis of consumption, they inhabit a fantasy land? ... If the new Dail produces a government which can't or won't take needed but difficult measures, the quality of our governance, which has always been mediocre at very best, will decline further. Caving in to every interest group and producing the lowest common denominator position on every issue would move us quickly in the direction of ungovernability.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Kenny betrays principles to stay in power

To bolster support for a minority coalition between his Fine Gael party and Fianna Fáil, Irish Taoiseach Kenny has agreed to the repeal of a controversial water tax introduced by his former government. The daily Irish Independent is outraged:

“In his quest to become the first Fine Gael leader to return to power as Taoiseach in consecutive elections, Kenny has agreed his grubby price. He has surrendered on water charges, which will now be unlikely to return for years to come. The deal will be spun as a temporary suspension pending the deliberations of a series of talking shops. But the grubby truth is Kenny is willing to do anything to cling to power, including selling out on Fine Gael's core principles and betraying those who abided by the law of the land by paying their bills. He'll be back as Taoiseach but his days will be numbered.”

Irish Examiner (IE) /

Ireland can no longer afford bickering

The Irish parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - which have been at loggerheads for decades - should finally seek reconciliation and form a grand coalition, the liberal daily Irish Examiner urges:

“All of us have had to work in circumstances we imagine are less than ideal, circumstances that challenge our old comforts and truths. It’s well past time that these two parties accepted that they are in that very situation and that they got on with the business of remaking this country. ... This is a small, and, like it or not, dependent country in an ever-more-fractured and volatile world. We cannot afford the silly games of old. We need a strong, unified Government, pretty quickly, and any politician who does not see, and accept, that has chosen the wrong vocation.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Irish have confirmed Europe's instability

The elections in Ireland have shown that, just like other Europeans, the Irish are also questioning their political system, the conservative business paper Naftemporiki writes:

“Following the example of the Portuguese, the Spanish and so many other European nations, the Irish have also refused to give any one party a majority and have bolstered independent, populist, 'anti-system' forces. The Irish have confirmed that political instability is the new constant in today's Europe. ... In a Europe that is at a loss over how to deal with several crises it is facing, a Europe without a plan and without a compass, a Europe that allows social rifts to steadily grow, we should not be taken by surprise when a political earthquake rocks us.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Grand coalition could finally bury the hatchet

The election results in Ireland make a grand coalition between the two parties Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which have been rivals since the times of the Irish Civil War, a distinct possibility. The solution could offer a real opportunity for conciliation, the conservative daily Irish Independent believes:

“Clearly, a sizeable number now want real change - not the superficial change of one right-wing party replacing another as the dominant partner in government. Following Friday's election result, we are now on the brink of a historic coalition between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that would once and for all nail the lie that there are any impediments to the two sharing power. Members of both parties may not particularly like each other, but that is down to history and personalities and has nothing to do with their respective policy platforms. … The centenary year of the 1916 Rising is an opportune time to consign Civil War politics to the past.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Irish have punished government for their suffering

Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny's centre-left coalition has been punished for letting the people pay for the crisis, the centre-left daily The Guardian comments:

“For several years into the technical recovery, living standards continued to slide. While protesters against stiff new water charges were briefly locked up, the bankers who led Ireland into the mire still walk free. Wages remain insecure, and public services - which were always patchier in Ireland than the UK - have become less adequate. The bill for the crisis was passed to citizens who had nothing to do with its cause, and now the people are justly seething. ... Ireland’s rulers have learned that if you preside over enough suffering for long enough, the people will make you suffer in turn.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Who's afraid of a minority government?

A minority government in Ireland would not be a horror scenario, the centre-left daily The Irish Times believes:

“Because a minority government cannot rely on the support of a loyal majority it tries harder when making policy. It has to be willing to compromise, becoming less arrogant and less certain of its position. ... In a parliament where the government doesn’t have a secure majority the committees start to work, legislation is amended productively, and government can’t shut down debate for partisan purposes. Parliament ceases to be just an ornamental part of the policy-making process.”