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If John Bruton hadn’t been Taoiseach…

If John Bruton hadn’t been Taoiseach…

Friday 19th December 2014
Former Taoiseach John Bruton doesn’t think that the 1916 Rising should ever have taken place. To make his case he has ‘re-imagined’ what it could have been like if his hero (he kept a picture of him in his Taoiseach’s office) John Redmond – the nationalist leader 100 years ago – had been listened to.

Thousands slaughtered

He says that if we had followed Redmond’s advice and had gone to fight for imperialist Britain, our colonial masters, we would have had Home Rule with no bloodshed – except of course, the bloodshed of those who would have been wiped out at Mons, Ypres or Passchendaele that he omits to mention. Most historians of note have dismissed Bruton’s ‘notion’ as puerile, risible, nonsense. It is, say the academics, a child-like exercise to try to imagine what could’ve/should’ve/would’ve.

Bruton did Haughey some service

Using the same Brutonist approach, we at ISME have done some ‘blue sky thinking’, imagining what might have been, had Mr. Bruton not been in the Dáil and had he not been Taoiseach. For a start, we wouldn’t have had the 1982 ‘VAT on kids’ shoes’ Budget that he introduced. This led directly to the collapse of the Government that in turn led to the return of CJ Haughey and his cronies. Not good for the economy. He was at it again as Finance Minister in 1986 when his Budget that year collapsed the coalition for a 2nd time and led to more years of rule by Haughey. It could be said that Bruton did Haughey some service.

If John Bruton hadn’t been there Haughey may not have been in power on those two occasions and the country and the economy would’ve been a much better place. But there you go. That’s the could’ve/should’ve/would’ve school of futile imaginings. But Bruton was there and the rest, as they say, is (real) history.

My daddy’s bigger than yours…

The banking inquiry attends the same school. Yesterday a leading Canadian expert gave us his version of what he would’ve done, had he been in the Irish Dept. of Finance. But he wasn’t, he didn’t and he wasn’t faced with the real dilemma that eventually cost the State – us – €64 billion. How often have you heard kids in the schoolyard say ‘If I had been there I would’ve done….’. According to John Bruton’s brother, Enterprise Minister Richard, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) continue to rebuild our shattered economy. However a narrative of ‘what if’s’ continues in the media and amongst those in the Dáil who have clearly never been involved in enterprise. These people, according to themselves, would’ve been out there burning bondholders, pillaging financiers and giving bankers their ‘what for’. Or so they think.

Besting the Beast

The (real) reality is that international capital markets can destroy you. In 1992 the UK government took on those financial forces and lost out spectacularly. The mighty Russia is feeling the effects of international capital being used against it at the moment and has seen its economy hammered in just a couple of months. And our dreamers think that Ireland could’ve bested these beasts? Dream on. At ISME we hate what happened. We know who’s to blame. But we also have businesses to run and haven’t got time to live in the utopian dream world occupied by those commentators.

We have 5% growth to achieve in 2015. So, let’s get on with it.