Irish newspapers are very well written, providing pleasure as well as information. For example, a line from today's The Irish Times tells us that "England is the only country in the world that would welcome news of the longest life expectancy in human history with the headline 'Pensions Timebomb'." I'll share with you some of the stories that have caught my eye today.
The biggest story concerns a proposal by Taoiseach, Brian Cowan and his struggling Fianna Fail Government to introduce a 1.3 billion euro cut in the salary bill of its workforce. Unsurprisingly, there has been an 'outraged' reaction by the trades unions. Strikes are planned. But just guess who they have recruited to lead the fight - Arthur Scargill!! He's already coming out with pearls of wisdom such as 'never negotiate', 'never surrender', 'glory in defeat' etc.. I fear for the public sector workforce of Ireland.
Another story dominating the headlines, and providing a headache for Brian Cowan demonstrates his current weakness. His Government wants to lower the legal level of alcohol allowed in the bloodstream of drivers. Despite widespread support from his cabinet, there seems doubt that he can carry his proposals. Most of the opponents are his own backbenchers. One of the main critics of the reduction in the limit, Mattie McGrath TD is arguing that a drink or two helps nervous drivers relax behind the wheel. I'm not making this up. Lots of other TDs are claiming that a change will lead to social isolation for what are termed the 'good old boys' who live in the countryside. So far the leader of the opposition and favorite to be the next Taoiseach, Edna Kenny has not been able to make up his mind. Not as if he was being asked something difficult - like to name his favorite biscuit.
Most interesting story for me today is news that former Taoiseach, John Bruton has started campaigning to become President of the European Council. Bruton is currently the EU's Ambassador to the US, and will be a real threat to the ambitions of Tony Blair, who is also widely reported to fancy the position. No doubt where my loyalties lie. Fianna Gael is the Irish party most comparable with the Conservatives, and No 3 son, Tim has married into a Fianna Gael family. So I'm backing Bruton.