For me it was a difficult decision. I had initially rejected the idea of trying to work with Fine Gael, when I considered what had happened to the Greens, and FF. We all know the shaky coalitions of the past. I didn't want to see the party ravaged by the electorate at the next election because of the tough and painful decisions that will need to be taken and favoured staying out. My view was that by the next election Labour staying out, would not be tainted and they could look forward perhaps to being the largest party.
The down side of staying out would unfortunately be the sight of Fine Gael pursuing centre right policies without restraint. Their slash and burn policies would impact heavily on the less well off in terms of welfare cuts etc and the equality agenda would be completely non existent.
Added to this dilemma, the party had also asked the electorate in the last ten days of the campaign not to allow a Fine Gael government to have an overall majority. So for those two reasons I reluctantly voted for the programme for government.
However in my mind I was aware that the optics of this government needed to be completely different from the most recent past. As of today Thursday 10th they have started well. Ministers went to the Aras to receive their seals of office in an army minibus, and taking reduced salaries has to be a good start. Times have changed indeed, no lines of Mercedes waiting to enter the park. Honesty and openness needs to continue to prevail.
The programme for government has a large number of Labour party equality proposals contained within and it was interesting today at the UN Universal Periodic Review meeting that the voluntary organisations and NGOs had almost identical equality proposals, for the UN review body to consider in October.
Interesting times, but with another banking crisis on the way and Irish default coming down the tracks, any enhancement of equality measures will only be implemented on a cost neutral basis, so I shall await future measures based on that parameter.