LAUNCH OF RAY BUTLER CAMPAIGN
I would like to set out why I believe it is important that both Ray Butler and Minister Damien English are re elected to the Dail.
Both have worked hard as members for this locality and are deserving of support on that basis alone.
But, more importantly, their re election would enhance the possibility that the country will have a stable government from next month on.
Fine Gael is the party with the best chance of being able to form, alone or with stable partners, a majority government. That is important to everybody.
The lack of a stable government could drive up interest rates and derail the economic recovery, whose signs are visible everywhere.
As I know from personal experience in 1981/2, governments, without a majority, can have good ideas and clear plans, but, without a majority in the Dail, they cannot be sure they can put them into effect.
In particular they cannot be sure they can pass a budget, and without a budget , the affairs of the nation cannot be managed.
If government budgets cannot be guaranteed, interest rates are liable to soar, as they did in the early 1980’s, because that would make would make lenders nervous.
Thanks to errors of the 2002 to 2008 period, Ireland’s level of government and private debt is such that we must avoid that.
The global economy is not stable at the moment.
Global debts are greater that they were before the 2008 crash.
The European banking union is incomplete without mutual deposit insurance.
Investment in energy is being cut back, and energy companies are in trouble, which raises the possibility of oil prices being highly volatile, upwards as well as downwards.
The ageing of society in most of the western world, and in China, is going to put a dampener on growth prospects for countries, like Ireland, that export to those markets. Slow growth would make debts that were sustainable unsustainable.
Ageing is also going to require us to spend progressively (and unfortunately incalculably) more on health.
In short, the economic future is uncertain.
In uncertain times, a country needs a government that is capable, in the interests of the people, of making quick decisions, and of implementing them, speedily. That means a government that knows it can pass laws and budgets, without needless haggling with special interests.
That is why is why we need a majority government, and why it is in the national interest, that Ray and Damien are both re elected to the Dail.
Speech by John Bruton, former Taoiseach, at the launch of the Fine Gael General Election Campaign in South Meath by Ray Butler in Trim Castle Hotel at 10.30 am on Thursday 4 February