In 2009, as economic reality started to bite a lone Laois councillor, who had a habit of sticking his neck out, made a prophetic comment.
County councillors were debating their 2010 spending plans in anticipation that the good times would return. The cutback idea was something that the county or country would only have to endure for the shortest time and soon enough we would return to the clover.
Cllr Michael Moloney, by then an independent, made the observation that cut through the idle talk.
“I’m telling yee lads, this recession is going to last at least ten years,” said the politician who stood as an independent last time out and failed to get re-elected.
There was a general guffaw in the council chamber when the Mountmellick brother of the former TD John Moloney gave his insight. Everybody was told and believed blindly that the fundamentals were sound.
Heading into 2013 is the country any better off? Of course not. In truth we live in a first world society with a third world banana republic economy. Ireland is broke. We are breaking all the rules of running a sensible financial house. Borrowing for day to day spending.
Later this month Laois County Councillors will be told that they have less money to spend. The failure to collect the imposed household charge on them means services will be cut.
Last week the Governement gave us another dose of medicine. Cut, cut, cut. In truth they could have kept cutting and it would have made little or no difference to the finances. We are cutting to please the famous Troika but where will it get us?
We keep getting told that what is happening now is that the foundations for recovery are being laid for the future. The pain being endured will make Ireland a leaner place and more attractive to outside investment.
But does cutting children’s allowance lay any foundations. In all likelihood it would be increased if recession ended. Taking money out of the PAYE workers pocket through PRSI changes is clever but a somewhat dishonest way of raising taxes.
Cutting a carers allowance is almost mean spirited. Just like the Children’s allowance it would rise if times improve. Many of these cuts are not reforming. Long term they mean nothing other than make the bottom line figures look better.
It is almost as if Ireland is like a business that somebody wants to get rid of. Cut unrealistically in the knowledge that it is only being done to make the bottom line on the balance sheet look healthy for the buyer. In reality the owner who wants rid knows the business will not survive for too long if some costs are not factored in.
There is little or no innovation required in making cuts. What is really needed is fundamental reform of how Ireland has developed.
Cutting public services is not reform but scrapping a dysfunctional Government department like the Department of Health would be revolutionary. Transferring the centre of power out of Dublin would also be brave. Forcing investment into the Midlands as an investment location would also be visionary.
These are the type of changes that would take political courage. They have nothing to do with the Troika and might save money and create jobs.
The dependence on the outside through multinationals has arguably stymied Ireland as a place from where large homegrown companies can emerge. Limerick has not recovered since Dell closed. What would happen if Intel shut?
The Goverment was boasting about IDA work last week in bringing new jobs to Ireland. Is there any future in this. Surely the time is long over due when a Government began to focus on Irish-owned business.
The preception is, traditionally that, Fine Gael and Labour have been given the job of cleaning up a mess generally left by Fianna Fáil - the party of Government. When the job is done we vote FF back in again to spend again.
This coalition needs to start doing more than cut particularly from the vulnerable and lower to middle earners. Taking money out of their pockets will damage the prospects that FG/Lab can stick around.