• August 29, 2018
  • News

Puts forward case for Fine Gael as only party that can deliver [economic and social renewal] for a modern Ireland, describing party as pursuing ‘the values of modernity, openness, pluralism, tolerance, opportunity, responsibility, care and aspiration.’

Wednesday August 29– Paschal Donohoe, Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure & Reform delivered the first Collins Institute Lecture this evening, exploring the response from the political centre to the economic and societal issues facing Ireland.

In a speech titled ‘Renewing the Centre’, Minister Donohoeproposed a number of core elements of a centrist agenda for social and economic reform. These included:

  1. A steady state economy. The management of the economy to balance the books, invest in the future and deliver incremental and sustainable increases in living standards over time.
  2. Deeper public participation. Building on the Citizen’s Assembly and the Constitutional Convention, Minister Donohoe called for a similar approach in the economic sphere by way of initiatives like participatory budgeting.
  3. A social agenda for a modern Ireland. Further steps to both reduce the role of religion in health and education systems,and to deliver the full participation of women in bothsociety and economy by closing gender pay gaps, equal representation on both state and private company boards, better childcare and extended and equal parental leave.
  4. Moving from redistribution to ‘pre-distribution.’ Increased focuson policies that seek to tackle income inequality before redistribution. This ‘pre-distribution’ agenda would encompasslabour market reforms, education initiatives and wider market reforms that tackle the cost of living.
  5. A property-owning democracy. Improvements inthe manner in which we plan, manage and use land in our urban areasare required. A key proposal is the establishment of a National Land Development Agency,tasked with planning and developing land in a co-ordinated manner in the public interest.
  6. From the periphery to the core of Europe. In view of the shifts in the balance of power currently underway within the EU, Irelandmust deepen political alliances with those Member States whose values and outlook we share most closely.


Calling for ‘greater political commitment and consensus’, Minister Donohoe emphasised the need for consistency in the economic and social response across political cycles, in particular as the State is increasingly the ‘guarantor of social and economic security and the provider of opportunity”. He highlighted Fine Gael success in combining ‘a highly equitable redistribution with a dynamic economy’ while acknowledging that politics has not made sufficient progress in areas such as housing and health.

Minister Donohoe said:My contention is that renewal of the political centre is a necessary condition for [this] wider economic and social renewal. Equally, this renewal must be radical if it is to meet the demands of our turbulent era.

To my mind the ambivalence as to our social and economic model and the associated failings of our social contract arise from the fact that the boundaries of the political centre here have been drawn more by accident than by design, by accommodating preferences rather than setting priorities and by eschewing trade offs and hard choices often in favour of fudge.

Responding to Minister Donohoe’s speech, economist Dan O’Brien said: The political centre ground in Ireland and Europe needs urgently to regain its self-confidence and get off the back foot by highlighting its record of achievement and the extent of human progress over many decades. He also argued thatmoderates need aggressively to take on the myths of the populists, and play a better tactical game by not fighting the forces of illiberalism on their own turf.  

The speech is the first in a regular series of discussion and lectures hosted by the Collins Institute, a political think tank, to consider policy responses to the political, economic and social issues embracing Ireland today and into the future.

Speaking ahead of the Collins Institute Lecture event, Marion Coy, Chair of the Collins Institute said: The Collins Institute is launching our lecture series with the ambition to gather a diverse range of speakers who will encourage us to think together about possible futures and to encourage alternative thinking and policies. We believe that the political centre has a very important role to play in answering the political questions of the day and welcome the thoughts of Minister Donohoe in how the centre must respond. We welcome other speakers who can present new arguments, challenge perceived wisdom and drive democratic debate.



About the Collins Institute:

The Collins Institute is a policy think tank supported by Fine Gael but operating independently of it.  The Institute examines the long-term challenges facing Ireland and suggests possible policy responses. In particular, it looks at the way in which a Just Republic might be established in Ireland as we approach 2022, the centenary of both the founding of the Irish State and the death of Michael Collins.

Contact: For media queries contact Fiona O’Connor fionaoc@gmail.com/ 087 6949601