The chance of change must not be squandered

Last night in Dail Eireann, the first chapter of the new history of this country was written. We hope that with the introduction of this new Government that an end of public service gombeenism is in sight. Taoiseach Kenny in his inaugural speech spoke of the need for the Government and the governed to move closer and he acknowleged that to do that, he needs to build up trust, and to build that, he will use the rare commodity of truth. It is something that has been in rare supply in recent years. He must acknowledge too that politicians are in the Last Chance Saloon when it comes to honesty and integrity, and that his Government, more than ever, will have to be seen to be above party politics if it is to achieve what needs to be done. If it fails, it will go down in smoke, and with it, the body politic.

The government plan which was released at the weekend promises a lot, but if it can be achieved, it will represent a considerable body of work for the Kenny Government. Kenny knows that never before will a taoiseach have come to this post at such a crucial juncture and as such, this gives him tremendous scope with which to deliver. Because of his majority and his seizure of the moral high ground, he is well placed to introduce the reforms that are needed if Ireland is to recover from the trauma of the last few years.

Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore need to push forward soon with the reforms that are needed because now, more than at any other time in our history, the people of the country are with the Government, willing them to take the brave leaps, to make the brave decisions, to swallow what would previously have been considered unpalatable.

Families up and down this country are facing uncertain times. The prospect of several more interest rate increases this year promises further hardship. All of us have seen our income fall, or in some cases almost disappear. The hopes we had for our families have been shelved, we are looking at our children asleep at night and wondering what lies ahead for them in this country. But we have to acknowledge too that this despair is temporary and will not always pertain.

In the 1980s, the bleakness was real bleakness. It was the bleakness of ignorance. It was the representation of a belief that this country was not really for much. And that we as its people were not up to much either.

The Celtic Tiger years have shown us what latte is, have given us the confidence to know what we are good at. We didn’t know that in the eighties and so our journey out of it was long and hard and achieved through the footpaths of Cricklewood and Boston and Sydney.

Let this be a week of hope for us all. Let this be the corner we want to turn.

Galway may not have secured any government minister but the new Attorney General Marie Whelan SC is a Kinvara woman and with west of Ireland men at in the top two positions in government, the west is certainly not being ignored.

So to Enda, we wish you well. Our fate is in your hands. Go forth and deliver for us and create for yourself a permanent place in the history of this State.


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