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IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID

Many election promises seem destined to be broken at the best of times but in the worst of times, they are likely to gather dust on the shelves of the parties’ headquarters whether there is a will to implement them or not.

The Sunday Times’s front-page lead is a fine example of why this election is completely different to most that went before it: simply put, the parties don’t control the country any longer.

“The next government may have to find an extra €5 billion if it is to get back within European Union budget deficit limits by 2014, according to a new analysis by the EU,” the paper reports. “The new figures threaten to undermine the fiscal policies of all parties contesting the general election.”

The propensity to throw figures about the place like a bookie at Cheltenham, is grist to the mill for David McWilliams who believes these are irrelevant fripperies distracting the public from the real issues.

Writing in The Sunday Business Post, McWilliams says “the only questions in this election are whether we default or not, how we do it and where we draw the line”.

“Everything else is secondary because, unless we get this enormous debt monkey off our backs and devise a growth strategy, there is little point discussing the health or education service. There will be no money to translate aspiration into reality.”

McWilliams is under no illusion as to the likely path any new government will be forced to travel, regardless of its political philosophy.

“Of course we are going to burn the bondholders. Of course we are going to wind up the banks. Of course the ECB will have to take a big loss on the Irish assets it has taken on its books. The Germans will have to put their banks’ expansion into the Irish financial system up there with previous ill-fated German expansions in the past. That’s just life: We wish it wasn’t that way, but it is.”

Meanwhile, The Sunday Business Post reports on the formation of a think-tank comprising a group of Ireland’s most influential and wealthy individuals called “Ireland First”.

The informal organisation of more than 20 people, which includes Denis O’Brien, Peter Sutherland, Philip Lynch, Mike Soden and Dermot Desmond, has written a document entitled “Blueprint for Recovery”.

It is understood the paper contains proposals on a wide range of subjects, including long-term funding solutions through the introduction of a 30-year bond. Other proposals expected to be submitted to the new government include:

  • A Minister for Competitiveness to act as a chief executive of government
  • The establishment of clear job creation targets and benchmarks for government
  • The establishment of a bank for SMEs
  • The amalgamation of Dublin’s universities to create a single university

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