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How long do you have to be in government before you become responsible for issues?

  • 24-09-2021 9:01am
    Registered Users Posts: 9,694 ✭✭✭

    I was listening to the late debate this week, and at various stages there were people from FG saying "we've only been in government for 10 years", "we've only been able to make policies since 2016" and people from FF saying "we've only been in government for 18 months". This was in relation to ongoing issues (mainly housing) and how they can't be held accountable yet.

    So I was wondering - how long do you need to be in government before you become accountable? In my mind, I think the first year is fair as ministers get into their briefs/etc, but after that it must be squarely on the current government for any ongoing issues. What do people think?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭PhilOssophy

    It depends how realistic it is for politicians to solve the problem. The HSE simply cannot be fixed without a mass cull of headcount and start from scratch, no matter how or what anybody says - be they minister, opposition, commentator, whatever. That is unrealistic in an Ireland where unions have the minister of the day in a headlock against any reform or changes to the status quo.

    Lets be honest, senior civil servants, not government ministers, call all the shots in this country. Most of our ministers have little or no knowledge in what their remit is. Asking a TD who is good at getting medical cards sorted out for voters and things to solve a housing crisis or fix the health service? If people think that is within their capability, they are delusional.

    So while some can be held accountable, it is just as likely that there's a vested interest stifling them from changing anything - but they can't say it publicly because, ya'know, they are all in it together and consuming the same pot of money at the end of the day.

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Business & Finance Moderators, Entertainment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,130 CMod ✭✭✭✭Nody

    Well it depends on the issue obviously; how high income tax is can be addressed with the first budget but ensuring the "housing crisis" is solved would take years if not decades of changed regulations, policies etc. to address (and that's being generous and assuming they have a feasible plan already worked out). Add in the fact that in most issues there is as well previous government policy to deal with as well as the fact they may not be in power to see it come to fruition muddling the water further. However; the by far biggest issue is not with the government but with the voters. Voters want catchy slogans and quick fixes and balk at the idea of actually having to pay/get inconvenienced in any way by the long term solution and vote out any government that starts down the road. This means even if a government wants to try to resolve something they would likely be voted out by a more populist approach party by next election. As they say; in a democracy you get the government you deserve.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭PhilOssophy

    Yeah I think that is it. In addition, parties in the opposition benches have often thought about what they do once they get in to power. I am thinking of Dr J's vision for the health service - great on paper, impossible to implement. Every opposition party has a housing policy which they think will fix the problems overnight - until they get in to power and realise the money isn't there, the planning system is more complex than they thought, or that the needs beyond the proclamation "X,000 homes by 2024" needs to be married with spatial strategies, public services, schools, transport, etc which aren't fixed overnight either.

    To me, the only thing any government are in 100% control of is taxation, and they can change that at the stroke of a pen.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,691 ✭✭✭Xterminator

    A government is only elected for 5 years. Any issue that cannot be fixed in 5 years will give not provide the government with any kudos. But parish pump issues will get you votes at the net election.

    Look at the strategy for cancer centers of excellence in the HSE - clearly a good idea will improve survival rates and provide better outcomes etc. this led to protests against this because people wanted better service locally - and were supported in this protest by politicians.

    look at the housing crisis. plenty of opposition (and government) TDs will join locals in opposing planning for housing in their backyard, slowing the no of housing units built, and exacerbating the current market shortage and inflating prices. Yet their party policies does not suggest we should delay the building of housing units so we can upgrade local roads and facilities 1st. Funny that.

    look at the parish politics that re-elect healy raes/ Lowry etc.

    We elect officials to run the county based on their record of delivering for the local parish/constituency & not based on the wider picture. I think we as an electorate are getting exactly what we demand. We complain about national issues and vote based on local ones.

  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 18,823 Mod ✭✭✭✭Sam Russell

    The BIG issues of today are Housing, Health, and Public Transport (particularly in Dublin).

    Housing was a big issue in 1950s Ireland and the Gov of the day built Ballymun and Ballyfermot, which went a long way to addressing the problem. Of course, subsequent Governments did not keep that going, and cut backs led to the stock having to be knocked or sold off.

    The Gov of the day just did it - build estates of LA houses - 'social houses' in todays parlance.

    Since the 1980s, effectively no LA houses have been built, just LA buying private houses off the market, and not enough of those. At the same time, existing LA houses are/were sold to sitting tenants at a sizeable discount, taking them out of public ownership.

    The current policy is to have private housing developments have 10% of those houses reserved for 'social housing'. The actual figure of the percentage of the population requiring such housing is estimated to be 30% or more. So current public policy will never solve the problem.

    Gifting public land to private developers is not the way to solve the problem.

    Health is covered by Salaintecare, and PT by Metrolink and Busconnects. All of these appear to be in trouble.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 28,018 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78

    our modern political ideologies are at odds in regards responsibility, we ve been chipping away of democratic control from within and outside of our political institutions, particularly over the last few decades, now our governments are effectively powerless. we urgently need to reshape our societies, to give more power back to these democratic institutions, but that wont be easy though, as the entities truly controlling things, wont be giving up too easily

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,114 ✭✭✭PhilOssophy

    Your last line sums it up. We complain about housing, hospital waiting lists, etc - but we vote based on who fixed the roads we drive on every day and will vote for the Healy-Rae's or Lowry based on fixing that road.

    But I think only the delusional think TD's have any major impact on what happens at national level. And even those bleating from the opposition about what they'd do - only the extremely gullible and naïve believe their nonsense.

  • Registered Users Posts: 272 ✭✭mary 2021

    I think the short life of a government and the placing of individual s into portfolios where they have had no prior input is futile. Then it takes years to come up to speed and then they are voted out so in effect being voted in is great and then you go into opposition before you can do anything and in esence are never responsible for anything ever.. You just use the old spin doctors and the government controlled media to spin the stories so you are there long enough to get a good pension and no real decisions are ever made by strong intentioned and men of integrity. Its a PR joke and we pay heavily for it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 28,018 ✭✭✭✭Wanderer78