A programme for change or more of the same?

Despite all the hoo ha during the election, both Fine Gael and Labour have compromised their election promises bringing them closer to the commitments of Fianna Fail’s four-year plan. At least little change is promised in the first 2 years of the new Government.

While Fine Gael may well get its way on having 10 out of the 15 senior ministers, this document is contains many sweeteners for Labour.

The new jobs Fund is very welcome but like so many other promises in this document there is no information on how this can be achieved, and the thoughts of another FAS type institution is really scary.

It appears that Fine Gael have handed over reform of public sector to Labour which is certain to anger the hundreds of thousands of private sector workers who voted for Fine Gael in the General Election.

It’s impossible to believe that putting a Labour Minister in charge of this sector will bring about the necessary changes required. It will ensure that the Croke Park agreement becomes the new social partnership with all its trappings, and will not proceed unless unions are satisfied.

The document is full of new quangos when I though Fine Gaels plan was to reduce that number. Labour have also managed to reduce the privatisation of the state’s assets to just €2 billion one which will please many public sector workers. The appointment of chairs with casting votes to Joint Labour Committees is another concession to the trades unions.

They’ve kicked a few key items to touch, Funding for third level education, possible privatisation of some Dublin Bus routes and Dáil reform.

There is no mention what so ever of funding for either Metro North or Dart Underground.

Creating ‘Irish Water’ to take over the water investment, and maintenance programmes of the 34 existing local authorities, it’s like setting up a HSE for water. Why not reform the existing authorities to continue these functions?

On the arts identifying buildings under NAMA control which might be suitable as local facilities for art and culture has no benefit to the arts community. The country is well served by many new theatres around the country what it needs is funding to support the production of shows. The document does contain a commitment to continue to dedicate resources to touring regional theatre/arts centers.

Creating a new Ministry for Public Sector Reform probably means that another Ministry will be amalgamated with some other, my guess is that will be Arts which will probably pushed in with Gaeltacht affairs?

No mention is made in the document on the continued commitment to support the Irish Film industry, in particular ensuring it’s developed in a sustainable way.

The plan for hospitals to have autonomy through boards which include representatives of local communities and staff is a recipe for disaster. As for the break-up of the  HSE its difficult to see it happening.

The introduction of universal health insurance may be a good idea but it will be blocked by the public-sector unions, the last thing they want is to have to be forced to work for their pay.

The new Government is entitled to all our full support for the first 12 months to see how much progress is made on this programme. They say the devil is in the detail and it’s not in this document, so we must wait longer to see how these commitments are to be achieved. For now at least the country’s spirit has been lifted with hope of better times to come.

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