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30 July 2010

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Fianna Fáil brings arse-about-face politics to an art form

SEÁNIE FITZPATRICK is on his uppers. The one-time darling of Celtic Tiger Ireland and the political establishment has hit rock bottom. Sympathy for Seánie – chief bottle washer at the toxic and now state-owned Anglo Irish Bank – is in short supply. Seánie may have fallen but he brought everyone with him. He may be bankrupt but he has his wife’s €3.6million to fall back on. Yes, ‘just’ €3.6million. Don’t you know times are tough?
Seánie’s pals in government also stare banktruptcy in the face. They met in Farmleigh House to consider how best to cut another €3billion in the December budget. One minister described the meeting as ‘workmanlike’. Now there’s a choice of words.
The Government is fairly relaxed about the unemployment figures.
They’re not breaking a sweat over families with big debts or in danger of losing their homes.
They’re almost dismissive of the tens of thousands of new Irish emigrants.
They carry on about their business, sucking billions from the citizens and sinking billions into a zombie bank. The state’s coffers may be bare but the leading lights in government have the ‘mercs and perks’ to cushion them from the bitter realities of recession.
Is there anyone among them who understands what it is to stretch a euro, to worry about a bill, to miss the rent, to miss an emigrant son? Do they grasp what despair can do to people?

Taxi drivers recently gathered in the Phoenix Park – not in Farmleigh House but outside Áras an Uachtaráin. They held a vigil to remember colleagues who had died by suicide. Their industry, like others, is in a bad way. Drivers, like others, are struggling to make ends meet. For some, the struggle was too much.
The 25% increase in death by suicide last year has been linked to the economic downturn. This is a tragic measure of just how bad things have got. The Government have no answers and no shame. They have brought arse-about-face politics to an art form.
The Minister for Social Protection cuts welfare entitlements. The Minister for Health cuts services for the sick and disabled. The Minister for Finance lands the taxpayer with tens of billions of debt. And, as for the Minister for Employment, well there is none.
For Seánie and the very rich the recession will come and go and Government cuts won’t hurt their lifestyle. For the rest, the majority who live outside the Golden Circle, the economic crisis has hit hard.
The Government is politically bankrupt. They can’t provide what people need most right now. Hope.

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