We have all heard the saying “a week is a long time in politics” but our new Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has, perhaps more than most, reason to reflect on how true this statement really is.
Only nine months ago almost half of his own front bench, then in opposition, indicated that they did not believe Mr Kenny had the necessary credentials to lead the Fine Gael party. As we all know Mr Kenny secured the necessary mandate last summer and, on March 9, 2011, obtained the largest ever majority in the history of the Dáil when he was elected the new Taoiseach of our still great little country.
The new coalition government involving Fine Gael and Labour has secured a very strong mandate, from the people, to govern this country consistent with their election manifestos.
I do not believe that anyone in this country underestimates the scale of this challenge or the severity of the problems and choices that the new government will have to make in the coming years. However it is also my firm belief that the people, when giving these two parties such a strong mandate, has also said that the government, in making these choices, must put the people of Ireland at the centre of every decision, and not to be fixated with the demands of the market, European central bankers or, indeed, bond holders, hedge fund investors and other speculators.
So yes, the people have said we must repay our loan but this must be done in a way which ensures that we can also protect essential public services, create economic stimulus within our indigenous economy and provide jobs for our unemployed and young people completing their education. This will be an extremely difficult balance to strike particularly against the massive, continuous and ceaseless demands, of the money markets, that we pay them before we meet the basic needs of the old, the sick and the vulnerable within our own society. However the government must take courage, from the mandate that it has obtained.
In fairness, the incoming government, in its ‘Programme for Government’, has put forward a radical reform programme, for the health service – see pages 8-9 – which is ambitious, and historic, but is built on a foundation of fairness and equity. A single tier health system where access to care is solely determined by need and not ability to pay, has been a long-standing policy of this Organisation. We now look forward to working with the newly installed government in its efforts to move our current, flawed, system to a truly equitable, fair, quality assured and, ultimately, world class public health service. This remains a goal for the common social good in every civilised society.
So the people have spoken and a strong mandate has been obtained. In this darkest of hours a new government has been elected to deliver us from depths of despair, the IMF and ECB and to give hope and belief that this country has a strong and positive future.
The Taoiseach, when elected, stated that he wanted Ireland to be the best little country in the world by 2016, a place where we encourage initiative, look after those sick and vulnerable and where one can grow old with dignity.
We all share in this vision and, while recognising it will not be easy, as long as the new government puts its people first, is honest and open and acts consistently, and faithfully to its commitments, then we will all march towards 2016 with our heads held high and our self confidence restored.
General Secretary, INMO
|Editorial - Strong mandate – Put people first|