We read last week of our Taoiseach Brian Cowen’s address to a business gathering. He seemed to be rather pessimistic of the country’s prospects.
If that is his view we wonder why does he want the job, you have to take the rough with the smooth.
When the election campaign was on he claimed that his party had the knowledge and experience to run the economy, compared to the Fine Gael and Labour alternative.
Things seemed rosier when he spoke earlier in the year. Now we have gloom and doom, it reminds one of government in the eighties. But he went further last week, when he said the economic conditions are the worst in a century.
We know some bankers have said similar things without the benefit of experience or hindsight. For a Prime Minister to say this is appalling leadership.
UK Chancellor Alistair Darling was comparing the current UK economic problems with that of the Great Depression. One thing we Irish are good at is self- deprecating one another.
Maybe it is due to austerity and post colonialism but we are forever moaning instead of being somewhat positive. Things are a lot different now than in a time of war and shortages, or of depression.
We can recall our late parents recalling tough times in the past. Having spoken to people who lived through the thirties, when many children in Waterford were so poor they did not have shoes, there was no electricity in many areas and no social welfare, we would have to say that our Prime Minister is prone to exaggeration.
The Irish Times ran an editorial over the weekend questioning his demoralising affect by using such comments. We all know there is a downturn in the economy, but leadership is also about morale boosting and seeing something positive ahead and giving people belief. Even his own Cabinet members must shudder when such comments are made.
The pensioners got potential benefits withdrawn in the budget, where communication and preparation was woefully lacking. We understand some Cabinet members disagreed with the move, but the Tanaiste, Finance Minister and Taoiseach carried on regardless.
The Taoiseach needs to show some leadership for the young or is he preparing for them to go elsewhere for work? We have a successful economy and an entrepreneurial culture that is the envy of many, so what was the point in saying it is the worst time in 100 years? Businesses and workers need confidence that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
We read an American report that the economy will improve there in the last quarter of 2009 and there would be a rise in residential investment after a major shake-out of housing stock and price falls. Stabilisation is on the way, but there is some pain ahead. We feel that there is a need to bring more experience to the fore in this Government at the top level.
In the political background, the leader of Fine Gael, Enda Kenny, announced he is going to tour the country and put his party on an election footing in the event of the Finance Bill not being passed.
In America a new President will be elected and he will know that there are problems and challenges but he will try to be positive as the Americans are a go-getting people and are future oriented. Here in Ireland we need positive leadership and the Taoiseach should be trying to inspire some confidence among the people.
We know the deficit is there and interest groups must be faced down. Pay is the problem mainly, public service overpayments in the past are hitting them now at the Department of Finance. The 10 per cent benchmarking and special pay rises have put the pay bill out of kilter as special pay deals did in the eighties.
Talk more about that ten per cent and the effect it has on the population and we may get some idea of why we are having cuts. This is a hard issue to discuss.
The cost of special pay deals in the public service hurt us in the eighties and are going to hurt us again. Plus ca change as the French say, nothing changes.
Thank God we are in the euro zone as we look at Iceland and Hungary where the IMF are called in. The Taoiseach needs to build confidence and not tear it down, if he cannot do that he is in the wrong job.