24 September 2008

Kenny accuses Government of Cowardice

Today Dáil Éireann (left), the lower house of the Irish Parliament, has resumed its sittings after the long summer recess, which has been criticised by opposition politicians and media alike.
Especially with the Irish economy in crisis and many other problems coming to light, it is hard to understand how our legislators can justify such a long holiday.

The first session began forcefully, with an attack by the opposition. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny (right) started the parliamentary season with strong words, claiming that "the government failed to take any notice of the warning signs of an economic downturn".

At Leaders' Questions this morning, Kenny accused Taoiseach Brian Cowen of "gross political cowardice" for not holding an emergency debate on the economy. He also criticised the government for "wastage of tax-payers' money", which is outlined in the Comptroller & Auditor General's report. (for details see my entry from September 22nd)

The Taoiseach said that successive governments must learn lessons from reports issued by the C&AG. Brian Cowen (left) also defended the government's record on the economy.

He said it was "taking action" in bringing forward the Budget date. A balanced and coherent plan would be presented on that day.

Well, so far the earlier than usual date for the Budget is all the government has done in relation to the economic crisis. A first step, one could say, but not much to show for.

Fine Gael made its protest over the lack of an emergency debate quite clear and ended a routine voting arrangement with the government, known as 'pairing'. (That means that in case a TD from the government - usually a minister - has to be absent from the Dáil on important business, a member of the opposition will abstain as well or not vote, to keep the balance of power. This system comes originally from the British House of Commons, but was - like so many other things - adopted by the Dáil in true Irish copy-cat fashion. Without this agreement, we might see now the opposition win some parliamentary votes, perhaps.)

The downturn in the economy will be discussed during Fine Gael private members' time this evening.
However, Brian Cowen will not be listening to that. By then he will be on his way to New York, to attend the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is of course much more enjoyable to mix and mingle with world leaders than to face the blunt facts of incompetence, blunder and economic failure at home.

The Emerald Islander

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