Editorial: Coalition’s grievance card is too full to be taken seriously

Environment Minister Eamon Ryan. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA


The word “silly” derives from the Greek “selig”, meaning blessed, but the latest budget-bickering in the coalition is more pitiful than pious. It is in need of a good plumber before whatever precious credibility it has stored goes down the plughole.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has even had to admonish his government partners to put a stop to the public tantrums.

The air is heavy with rattles flying from junior ministers’ prams, and someone is going to get hurt in the crossfire.

Mr Ryan is right to recognise that voters will not put up with such nonsense.

Ministers vying with each other to look good, or to garner credit for giving taxpayers their own money back, makes for an ugly spectacle,

There are demands on the public purse and there are procedures for making decisions and guaranteeing equity and fairness.

So squabbles over who can give away the most are as unedifying as they are unwise.

People would be “rightly annoyed” if the coalition parties continued to express public differences over how to frame the Budget.

Environment Minister Mr Ryan said: “I am old enough to remember the country falling a few times because we did not get the economic strategy right. The Budget is about getting priorities right.”

Mr Ryan was hoping to get through to those who had yet to recognise there was at least one adult in the Cabinet.

Simon Coveney also had some pacifiers of his own to give out. No, there wasn’t any tension in the coalition, nor was anyone being bullied.

“Just because we’re in coalition doesn’t mean we’re the same. You know, different parties have different priorities,” he said.

For Fianna Fáil, the true victim of all this subterfuge – if publishing an article in this very paper can be classified as such – no amount of oily words could calm its troubled waters.

The three offending ministers who had written the article suggesting there ought to be big tax cuts for those who needed them most were undermining the budgetary processes, according to Tánaiste and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. He described their article as “unhelpful”.

Meanwhile, the “actual” Finance Minister, Michael McGrath, was eager to assure everyone that he was “certainly not” being bullied.

“Anybody who knows me will know that I can be as tough as anybody else when it comes to negotiations,” he said.

Yet for fellow Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness, those rascally junior ministers were merely “kite-flying” with the tax-cut dreams.

In any event, he added, ministers of state Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, Martin Heydon and Peter Burke were “perfectly right” to air their views – in a sensible parameter of the Budget expenditure.

That is the thing about dysfunctional families – even the ones that run the country: there is never quite enough room on the grievance scorecard to contain the outrage in everyone’s gripes.

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