Will summer flurry signal autumn’s new approach?

Smelling the coffee...Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Paschal Donohoe will have more than beverages on their hands for the autumn.
Smelling the coffee...Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister Paschal Donohoe will have more than beverages on their hands for the autumn.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

It is the last week before the summer break and as you would expect there was a flurry of activity in the Dáil all week; the kind of stuff you see when students realise the end-of-year exams are only a week away. Paschal Donohoe unveiled his Summer Statement; sadly there were few references to salad days or seaside picnics, although he did talk about a rainy day – not one to do with indoor activities for children, but rather the fund that his own Government has promised to squirrel away to prepare for future shocks.

The old Government, that is – because Donohoe and new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar want to change all that and get rid of Michael Noonan’s plan from last October’s Budget.

In essence, the ‘rainy day’ fund was the new National Pension Reserve Fund. We had to raid the whole of that (north of €20 billion) when the economy hit the buffers in 2009.

There’s was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil on how much could be spent. Fianna Fáil objected to the fund being abandoned entirely so at least some of it will be retained. And so a compromise of sorts was reached, the kind of fudge that has formed part of this strange arrangement.

The Dáíl will have sat four days this week and the Seanad was also actually doing real work. And so it should have. The legislation count for the year has been abysmal.

Only 14 Bills have been enacted since January which is dire – considering over half of them are short, or technical. In the main, they are Bills required to give statutory backing to already existing schemes, or emergency pieces of legislation like the Rugby World Cup Bill.

So to make up for the shortfall, we have overcompensation. No fewer than 16 Bills will have been rushed through the Dáíl, Seanad and Committees this week.

And as for no guillotines? If the Government wants even half of them to make it through, it will have to apply the guillotine.

For more, see this week’s Connacht Tribune.