It didn’t take long did it?  Not so many weeks ago there was general rejoicing and satisfaction that the incompetent Fianna Fail had been dumped on their backsides.  The brave new world coalition of Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael together with Labour, the junior partner in the new coalition led by Eamon Gilmore would start righting the ship.

It was never going to happen though was it?  I can’t believe that the Irish people are a bit surprised by the floundering that has taken place since.  Far from showing any unity of purpose we have ministers going off and announcing their own pet initiatives completely independent of their Cabinet colleagues.  The air is full of hurried denials and backtracking.  There has been not a ray of hope that the problems weighing down the country are being acknowledged, let alone tackled in a coherent manner.

The coalition came to power vowing to renegotiate the terms of the EU and IMF bailouts, which are blatantly punitive and which do not allow breathing space for any hope of economic growth.  Instead the Government is rolling over to have its tummy tickled by its paymasters.  The new government vowed to cut the crippling public sector costs and to overhaul the benefits system.  Instead the unions representing the grossly inflated public sector are smirking and some their members are actually being awarded pay rises.  Precious few are losing their jobs.  Public sector salaries are something like 40% higher than those in the private sector where virtually all of the unemployment is happening.  The welfare benefits system is pretty much out of control having been ramped up in the days when the country could afford it.  There seems to be no appetite at all for curtailing it.  Ireland is heading only one way and it is painful to watch.

I quote from the excellent blog

Irish politicians are very, very seldom honest. They operate within a deeply corrupt political system where lying, cheating, stealing and generally betraying the people is the norm.
Honesty within a system that runs on the fuel of corruption can quickly end a political career.
Such corruption flourishes because of the chronically low level of political intelligence among Irish citizens. 

We have different issues here in Jersey.  We of course are fortunate to be in a fairly privileged position.  The global recession has swept through of course yet, despite the steady noise of the many moaners (we must have more per square mile than anywhere else) our problems are much more manageable.  The cries of anguish as GST is raised from 3% to 5%, when bus fares go up 10p, when there is a suggestion to bring back prescription charges (yes they’re free) would make a cat laugh.

There are a handful of malcontents that claim – without every actually producing evidence – that Jersey politicians together with the judiciary form a corrupt oligarchy.  I don’t doubt that there are deals done on the quiet and I don’t doubt that there is a bit of dirty washing that never sees the likes of day.  Our greatest problem though is the inability to find 53 (or thereabouts) individuals intellectually capable of understanding key issues.

One of the most hotly debated pieces of legislation recently was the compulsory wearing of cycle helmets.  Everyone understood this subject and had a view on it.  (Compulsory helmets for children was voted in incidentally, really because members voted for it because they’d otherwise be accused of being child killers.  It will prove unworkable.)  Yet how many have got the capacity to understand in real depth the more complex economic issues that need their attention?  In fact it’s unreasonable to expect everybody to have this depth of knowledge.  I met a prospective candidate for the autumn elections the other evening and, though bright in her own way, she really had not the basic grasp of simple taxation and economic theory.

The answer?  For their 45k or so salary surely every States member should undergo some form of basic training upon election before being allowed to vote on issues that affect everyone’s lives.

As to Ireland’s situation I’ll sort that out next week maybe 🙂