A Review of The Week in Irish Politics
In a busy week in Irish Politics Ciarán finds himself in agreement with the leader Fine Gael. Never miss a letter from Ireland. Sign up for our free weekly newsletter on our website.
A Letter from Ireland - My New Best Friend
There was big politics at play this week in Ireland. Tuesday was Budget day in Dublin. It is the day when the Government unveils its annual plan for taxes and spending. Unveil isn’t the right word as most of the plan had been leaked in advance. It is a set-piece political theater.
The government of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael set the agenda and tell us how well they are doing at spending our money. And there was money to spend.
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald summed it up as “never has so much been spent to do so little”. It was a budget by focus group. A little bit of something for everyone but not enough to make a real difference. It lacked ambition and leadership. It failed to tackle the pressing issues of housing and healthcare.
Sinn Féin offers a vision of a new and united Ireland. It has the policies and political will to make a difference. The government of Fianna Fáil/ Fine Gael and Greens offer only more of the same old, same old.
The second big political event of the week was the EU unveiled plans to address the technical issues with the implementation of the Irish Protocol. They came to Ireland, listened, and drafted proposals to drastically reduce the red tape on imports while also preventing a hard border from being imposed across Ireland. Their proposals have been welcomed by business groups.
The response of the British Government was to bank the proposals and pick another fight with the EU. An approach that puts the British at odds with the EU, President Biden, and Congress.
A former senior advisor to the British Government claimed that when Boris Johnston signed the legally binding Protocol agreement, he had no intention of honoring it. Perfidious Albion rides again.
It is at this point, my week took a strange turn. In response to the British Government the leader of Fine Gael, Leo Varadkar said,
“ Surely the message must go out to all countries around the world that this is a British government that doesn't necessarily keep its word and doesn't necessarily honor the agreements it makes.
And you shouldn't make any agreements with them until such time as you're confident that they keep their promises, and honour things, for example, like the protocol."
Yes!!! But was I agreeing with the leader of Fine Gael? It was a timely reminder that politics is not binary. There are issues on which we agree and issues on which we disagree.
This British Government believes it is not bound by international agreements or laws. It is prepared to undermine the rights of citizens to access the legal process, cover up murders, and offer an amnesty to its military. It surely meets the definition of a rogue state.
Protecting peace, progress and prosperity in Ireland continues to unite both parties and houses of Congress.
As for me and Leo, normal service will resume shortly
Have a good one.
Ciarán Quinn is the Sinn Fein Representative to North America