By Eugene McGloinBACK IN
1924 the forerunner of Fine Gael cut a shilling off the old age pension in its Budget.
That one act has damaged the genetic make-up of every government ever since involving Fine Gael.....as older people see them.
It's nearly a century ago but old people long since gone to Their Reward never forgave them, nor did their offspring.
Fáil has too often been little better....but FF can point to two, three
and (maybe yet) four of its people who changed that culture.
late Charles Haughey remains the outstanding Minister for Finance in
treatment of -- AND respect for -- pensioners in budgets.
His legacy in that regard is not dependent either on media handouts of compliments.
Raymond MacSharry runs Haughey a close second in his era when he
wielded a knife and sometimes an axe in his budget ideas.
Reynolds gets honourable mention in dispatches when it comes to the
topic of how pensioners are treated in Irish public life.
Labour, for all its talk, collaborated in the 2015 to 2016 era in shameful treatment of older people.
Michael Martin has ambitious plans which, if they happened, would rival the real achievements of Haughey towards older people.
The only problem is Martin's plan seem to be staggered across five years.
Well, not the 'only' problem.....because this current Government has itself staggered over each of its five months in office.
will be a Beatles reunion and Elvis will walk the promenade at
Strandhill before this current Government gets five budgets through the
This past summer this Government looked too like the late-night drunk celebrated by comedian Billy Connolly.
You know the guy -- he thinks ONLY he, alone, can sing Stephen Foster's beautiful ''Beautiful Dreamer.''
Trouble is his performance is not so much with his tonsils as with his toes. He sings with his leg(s).
shifts on his left leg, then to his right leg, swings back to try and
balance on his left leg as the sweet notes go from nasal to (just)
That's the graphic to keep in mind with this
Government, its relationship with its own Cabinet component(s).....and
its relationship with, let's call them its 'senior citizen clients.'
You see, this Budget 2016 belongs to nobody -- not Fine Gael certainly, not independents, not Fianna Fáil.
So, keep your focus on that image of the Glasgow drunk grappling with ''Beautiful Dreamer.''
day is a long time in politics -- this outfit has just hours to sort out
its shambolic shortcomings, over too long a time, towards pensioners.
On this issue, both humility and a sense of shame seem in short supply in Fine Gael. The augury is not good.