When the great Chinese philosopher Hu Flung Dung penned the immortal line “may ye live in interesting times,” surely he was thinking about days such as this. Days when the news brings unprecedented details of the unthinkable happening to all the institutions that we all previously thought were solid. Days when the squeaky bum times of footballing parlance have well and truly been transferred to politics.
You can see the GFovernment positively twitching on their bums on the front benches of the Dail. You would need a gallon of three-in-one oil to quell the squeaks from their posteriors as they twist uncomfortably this way and that on the leather seats of the front benches. When they walked in behind Herr Cowen last summer and sat down on those plush pads, did they ever think that it would come to this? That their standing would plunge to the levels now being experienced. That the public would think that they can tell when the Government ministers are lying, because “their lips move.”
Last night as the Government faced another barrage of criticism over its handling of the Anglo-Irish Bank crisis, I was wondering if what we are seeing is the beginning of the end for the Cowen era. And for this Government.
With the almost daily avalanche of revelations spewing forth from the various reports and watchdogs about the nefarious activities of the so called fat cats, there is a feeling that all we have seen so far is a mere trickle. That there is more to come from even more surprising sources. Our lust for a corruption link having been sharpened by a few hundred million euro worth of tribunals, people are baying for blood and are making links between big business and big government.
At the back of this is the belief that there is no way the Government was not aware of the existence and identity of the so-called Golden Circle. If they don’t they should have. If they did, they have lied.
For most of us, the closest we ever got to a golden circle was when we ordered a punnet of onion rings, the crisp tasty crunchy variety that you would get served up to you in the likes of Conlon’s or McDonogh’s fish restaurants or Supermac’s.
And to continue on the food theme, there is a feeling that this Government is being wrapped up in a chip bag and being readied “to go”.
I think that this Government has been teetering on the brink for many months, the cloak of invincibility has long been sent to the cleaners; the cloak of invisibility a la Harry Potter being the preferred saratorial choice of our leader until the recent campaign to reconstruct him as the smart-talking no-notes man was conceived with the convenient co-operation of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
There is a very strong possibility that a general election will be held in the coming months, and the feeling is that if the dam bursts and just a few more galons of water come over the edge, it will be enough to whisk them away.
And what then? The experts on finance offered by some of the Opposition, with af ew notable exceptions are none too impressive. However, what an election may achieve is that whoever is chosen to rule will do so with the confidence of the people and as we have discovered in the past few months, when it comes to economics, confidence and trust is everything.
Declan Varley [email protected]