The Fianna Fáil/ Green Party Government has just about limped to the shelter of the Dáil summer recess, battered and severely frayed at the edges. Now there must be serious questions about how long more it can stagger from crisis to crisis.
This is the most despised government in the history of the Irish State. It is a government with not a shred of credibility or moral authority, elected three years ago on a programme that is utterly unrecognisable from the vicious policies of cuts that it has been implementing for the past two years.
The government should not have survived this long. It should have been driven from office as soon as it began its programme of bailing out banks on the one hand and then hammering living standards and public services on the other. That it is still there is largely due to the cowardice of the trade union leadership which has conspired with it to force the cuts onto the shoulders of working people. Its role has been to undermine any idea that there was an alternative and demoralise the membership into accepting the attacks.
The other factor is that there is no confidence whatsoever among ordinary people that the political parties in opposition would have any fundamentally different policies were they in government. If there was a real opposition then the pressure to hold a general election to change the government would have been unstoppable.
The reality is that Fine Gael stands for the same policy as Fianna Fail, of making working people pay for the crisis. And in a number of areas they would be even more right wing in the implementation of cuts and privatisation of public assets.
The Labour Party has been attempting to gain credibility among the majority who are hit by the cuts by verbally opposing policies such as the banks guarantee. However Labour is only too willing go into goverment with Fine Gael. It will then implement the cuts demanded by the economic establishment. This is an inevitable consequence of the Labour Party believing that there is no alternative to the capitalist market, having long ago abandoned any allegiance to the idea of a socialist aternative.
Labour showed its utter cynicism when it voted against legislation banning the Ward Union Hunt from chasing a stag around the Co Meath countryside. Labour had pledged itself to oppose this barbaric practice. However it seems pressure from few a backbench deputies brought the party to oppose the bill.
Shamefully the Labour Party gave credence to the reactionary idea that a ban on stag hunting was an “attack on rural Ireland”. In fact, anybody in rural Ireland who took a domesticated animal from its paddock and set a pack of dogs to chase and terrify it for several hours around the countryside, would rightly be regarded as a reprobate.
The government hopes to buy itself more time by closing down the Dail until the end of September. However, there will be no escaping the fallout from the crisis of their system. Apart from the economic disaster there are vital political issues.
The Green Party is declaring that a Mayoral election will be held in Dublin in the Autumn. Fianna Fáil will resist this as it would receive an unmerciful hiding. If this election is held, then how can it refuse to call the three outstanding bye elections which would also register how hated Fianna Fail now is?
Looming over everything of course is the Budget in December where another €3 billion in further cuts is on the cards. While it is not absolutely certain that the government would fall on this one, it will soon be time for us to be preparing for a general election and trying to build an alternative to this disastrous system and those who run it.