Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Republic of Ireland's crisis is cause for concern

The scale of the current political and financial crisis in the Irish Republic is giving concern in Northern Ireland as well. Since the demise of the Celtic Tiger, the state and its politicians have staggered from one uncertainty to another.

Undoubtedly it was Fianna Fail and the financiers and developers who created the economic crisis, but since the scale of the problem became clear to all, the government has failed to reassure the people.

Brian Cowen decided to hang on to the party leadership until he had no alternative but to resign on Saturday. Unusually, however he intends to carry on as Taoiseach until Fianna Fail elects a new leader.

Many people feel that in doing so he is putting the party before the country, but there is also the need to keep the machinery of government going and to pass the crucial Finance Bill as quickly as possible.

It is difficult to predict even the short-term outcome of this continuing crisis in Dublin. There are those who believe that the Finance Bill could be passed more quickly and that a much-needed general election could be held even before the stipulated date of March 11.

It is clear that a lame-duck Taoiseach and a lame-duck government are in no position to give leadership to the country at this time. Some people north of the border might be tempted to gloat at the Republic's difficulties, but this would be extremely partisan and short-sighted.

It is in the interests of everyone on this island that a stable government is formed in Dublin as soon as possible to tackle the enormous problems facing the Republic and also the cross-border issues which face politicians of all parties in Northern Ireland. There are no winners while the Republic remains in crisis.

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