Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: No honeymoon for Republic coalition

There is little surprise that Fine Gael and Labour will form the next government in the Irish Republic. This has been mooted for the past week, following the electorate's massive rejection of Fianna Fail and the Green Party.

The focus now is on how the new partners can work together, and their wide-ranging programme will be judged by their ability to tackle the Republic's financial crisis.

Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore have denied that their joint economic programme differs little from that of their predecessors in that it follows the same broad guidelines imposed on Ireland following the huge EU-IMF bailout at the end of last year.

The new government is pinning its hopes on a renegotiation of the repayment of the debt package, including a possible relaxation in the interest rates.

Despite Irish optimism, the prospects of relief from Europe are not good, judging by the cool reaction from the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Even if Ireland does obtain some breathing space in its debt repayment, there is little doubt that the incoming government will have a short honeymoon period.

The Irish electorate has already experienced considerable economic pain from the cutbacks announced already, and it is clear that even more pain is on the way.

Furthermore, it is by no means certain as yet that the new Irish government, despite its large mandate and its determination to succeed, will do significantly better than its predecessors given the outside economic restraints.

However it is very much in the interest of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom that economic stability returns to the Irish Republic. Both nations have much in common as trading partners, and also in a historically wide and unique relationship that will be symbolised most clearly by the Queen's visit to Ireland later this year.

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