There was widespread shock this week at the news that some badly needed and highly anticipated road projects in Mayo have been given the axe. Included are the N5, N26, and N17 upgrades.
But it’s hardly surprising really.
The money simply isn’t there.
The news however could mark the end of Enda Kenny’s honeymoon period, among his own people especially.
But it was bound to end. The Taoiseach isn’t being paid to make friends. We always knew his role would involve making tough decisions, and Mayo can’t be excluded from the fold.
The honeymoon continued well into July with Kenny’s personal ratings at their highest ever. But that rating will be upset with the road to Budget 2012 set to be bumpy. It is vital that any hardships contained within the budget are spread fairly across society. The average Irish person has been badly stung by the previous couple of budgets, where we were told to suck it up and take the cuts “for our country”. We were obedient little soldiers but alas those cuts weren’t spread fairly across the economic divide.
That’s a huge challenge that is going to meet Kenny and co when they begin drafting the next round of cuts and new taxes.
The Government have to meet stringent measures laid down by the EU and IMF. They are no longer the masters of their own destinies. But householders too are struggling to make the books balance. So many bills continue to rise. Electricity, gas, car insurance, house insurance, mortgage rates, food, oil, petrol, they’re all on the up. Unfortunately there is nothing extra coming into the coffers to offset these rising costs. In fact many households have been faced with the loss of an income, and cuts to pay and hours. The story is pretty bleak. And undoubtedly there is more bad news on the way.
Let’s not dwell on it too much. We can’t control any of the above. The budget will happen and hard times are set to continue for the foreseeable future at least.
Enda must ensure the right decisions are made. There are areas that demand investment (education ), areas where wasteful spending must be eliminated and re-routed (health ), and areas where cuts are necessary (social welfare ). I’ll be made a social pariah for daring to suggest that cuts can be made to social welfare but that’s the reality. There is too much fraud in this system which must be tackled so genuine recipients of social welfare get what they are entitled to.
I wish Mr Kenny all the best in the coming months and hope that he has the courage to do what’s right for the country and its citizens.