|Rogelio Alonso, Malcolm Barry, Paul Bew, Gavin Bowd, Gary Kent, Fred Lowe, Marc Mulholland, Conor Murphy, Henry Patterson, Pat Rabbitte, Chris Walker, David Wheatley, Robin Wilson|
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|Subjects:||European Monetary Union British Labour Party|
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This edition of Times Change from Democratic Left has a number of oddly contemporary resonances. It leads with an article entitled ‘Tackling the Drugs Crisis’. However, it was written at a time leading towards the end of the Fine Gael/Labour/Democratic Left coalition formed in 1994 on foot of the disintegration of the Fianna Fáil/Labour coalition. It is therefore informative that the editorial concentrates on the prospects for a Fianna Fáil/Progressive Democrat coalition.
The list of questions asked are of interest at this remove:
Will the Pds accept the subservient role laid down for them by Mr. Ahern. For despite the attempts by the other Mr. Ahern to paper over the cracks, all the Pds are being offered is a walk-on role in a Fianna Fáil government. If, however, the Pds were to assert themselves and win a real say in government, would FF be happy to re-introduce water charges as advocated by Mary Harney? Would FF cut taxes as required by the Pds and, if so, what public spending cuts would it make? Would FF sell off profitable state companies like ACC, ICC, TSB and Aer Rianta? And would FF have the nerve to ask workers to be poor but happy?
A Fianna Fáil/PD coalition would be inherently unstable.
It argues that:
The contrast with the outgoing government could not be greater. The three-party coalition…. Took office in difficult circumstances unprecedented in Irish political history, yet quickly got down to business. Prudence and decisiveness have been the hallmarks of the government’s management of the economy. Economic growth at 6 per cent in 1996 was well above the EU average while inflation at 1.6 per cent was at the lower end of the EU scale.
It makes a most interesting assertion in the following;
One lie needs to be nailed as the election draws near. Elements of FF together with SF continue to accuse the government for being responsible for the ‘breakdown’ of the IRA case-fire. This is nonsense. The IRA alone is responsible for ending its ‘complete cessation’, not the Brits, not the unionists, not ‘those bastards in power in Dublin’ (as leading republican Brian Keenan describes the Irish government. The ‘Irish Peace Initiative’ was blown to smithereens by its creators at Canary Wharf and it is now up to democratic parties, both nationalist and unionist to fashion a genuine peace process. Neither violence nor pan-nationalism have anything to contribute to such a process. The best contribution that the Republic can make is to continue the government’s even-handed approach’.
Given events that were to occur within the next twelve months the restatement of such a deeply sceptical, arguably even hostile, approach to the peace process is oddly telling.
The government is working well, the Republic is in good hands. The forthcoming general election will decide whether this remains the case or whether a shaky coalition, leaning to the far right and hopelessly divided on basic issues will be entrusted with the governance of the state.
Elsewhere there are a range of other articles with equally contemporary resonances including ones on the European Monetary Union.. Conor Murphy writes that:
As a small open economy, highly dependent on international trade, Ireland stands to benefit disproportionately from the lower transaction costs associated with EMU.
And he concludes:
On balance it is probably in Ireland’s best interest to take the EMU option with or without the UK.
Gary Kent has a piece on New Labour, approaching their own General Election landslide in Britain, and there’s a comparison between the IRA and ETA which concludes by arguing that the comparison made by the then RUC Chief Constable is fundamentally misconceived… ‘by leaving out the inevitability of a strong loyalist paramilitary response it puts the sort of optimistic gloss on Republican strategy which was characteristic of the analysis given by his predecessor Sir Hugh Annesley’.
There’s much else including a ‘What’s in store for the left article’ and a defence of democratic socialism under the line ‘Modern Myths and the need for democratic socialism’. And in passing interesting to note a reference on P.29 by Paul Bew to a text about to be published soon after that also has a contemporary resonance.