Political expectations for the year that lies ahead

World of Politics with Harry McGee

  1. War Will Continue

The bombing of Gaza continued relentlessly over the Christmas period as the population was forced to flee into already horribly overcrowded areas south.

In the Crimea, Russia admitted on St Stephen’s morning that one of the warships in its Red Sea fleet was hit by a laser-guided missile fired by a Ukrainian jet.

So the first expectation we have for 2024 is a heart-breaking and brutal one. War will cast a dark and lingering shadow over the years. Both the wars on Ukraine and the terrible revenge Israel is raining on Gaza will define politics globally, in Europe and here in Ireland in 2024.

The Ukraine war looks like it is digging in to be a long-term conflict that could drag on for much of the rest of the decade. As it continues, we will see another parallel process happen and that is the Ukraine begins a fast-track process to become a full member of the EU. The die has been cast there.

It means, too, that not too many of the 100,000 or more Ukrainian refugees in Ireland will be returning home during 2024. Indeed, the Government, from the start, has known that a fair proportion of them would settle and stay in Ireland for the medium-term to the long-term.

With the huge pressures on finding even basic accommodation for people, allied with the prospect of more refugees arriving on our shores in 2024, the condition for new arrivals have changed with State supports dipping sharply after three months. It remains to be seen if that will have an impact on numbers.

  1. Immigration will become a tinderbox

There has been a trend to label all protests concerning immigrants as far-right, which is not correct. The news that a centre is being opened in a community can generate fears, often ill-founded but genuine fears nonetheless. There is also a growing sense among the general population that immigration policies are not effective and are not working.

That said, whoever set fire to Ross Lake House in Oughterard, in the week before Christmas was a criminal and deserves to face the full rigour of the law.

Pictured: Michael McGrath…Euro Commissioner?

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