Irish Budget – A one-armed bandit?

Image of a slot machineWhile previous Irish budgets have been portrayed as one-armed-bandits, this budget may be far closer to that analogy than we would ever have imagined.
The role of independent Dáil Deputies would appear to be crucial in determining the final numbers for the vote on the budget and the subsequent Finance Bill. However, as has been the practice, independent deputies appear to be bargaining on behalf of their constituencies, regardless of clichéd “national interest”. Although Michael Lowry insists that his support is not dependent on Government support for the Tipperary Venue, including a revision of gambling legislation, news reports suggest that the report on gambling legislation is being fast-tracked through Cabinet. This is presumably so that any new Government will have the published report in their In-boxes.
Michael Lowry, like Jackie Healy-Rae, Finian McGrath and other independent Deputies, answer directly to their local constituents, but too often put local issues above the priority of national issues. A cursory examination of the distribution of the ill-fated decentralisation of Government departments demonstrates the local clientelism with which those departments were relocated. Similarly, the favouritism shown to parts of Kerry for sports and tourism grants during the Arts, Sport & Tourism Ministerial supervision of John O’Donohue
The Dail is a national parliament. We need a system which prioritises the national interest for all the members of that parliament. Until that happens, we have situations such as will happen tomorrow: the decision on the adoption of a national budget may ultimately depend on the whim of the proprietor of a one-armed-bandit emporium.


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