January 24, 2011

Real reform goes beyond politics

Posted in Politics · 213 comments ·
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Back in the early 1990s, I was working in the Central Bank when work was under way on framing much of the Irish position on the Maastricht Treaty.

Every few weeks, an Irish representative from the Department of Finance went to Frankfurt, Brussels or Basle, to Central Bank or European Finance Committee meetings.

Together with my colleagues, we drafted the Irish submissions.

When I started working in the Central Bank, my boss kicked off my career by telling me to read the minutes of the previous few week’s European meetings, so that I could familiarise myself with the job. I noticed something odd: the Irish representative never spoke at the meeting. I put this down to the fact that maybe, that week, the Irish delegation had nothing to say.

But time and again, these minutes revealed that, no matter how detailed the briefs were that the junior and middle ranking economists gave to the representative of Ireland, the Irish representatives never took part in any of the debates.

Why was this? Was it because they were afraid to offer an opinion?

Were they afraid to stand out and explain to the Europeans that Ireland was different?

After all, we did more trade with Britain and the US than we’d ever done with Europe. We had a lot at stake and yet we didn’t speak up.

These were crucial debates on the European Monetary Union (EMU), and whether we should join the euro. At the time, the British and Danish representatives were particularly vocal, as, of course, were the French and Germans.

Periodically, the other smaller countries’ representatives would question what was going on, but never the Irish delegate.

The people who should have spoken out for Ireland never spoke, they went along with the majority.

There was – from my Memory of the minutes – no effort made to articulate an Irish perspective, no effort made to point out that Ireland had a lot more at stake from joining the EMU than any other country. It was clear at the time to most economists that this was a political, not an economic, policy, and our top civil servants went along with it, without question.

The same silence was apparent when we had a currency crisis in 1992/3. When any one of us suggested that the policy of defending the Irish punt at all costs against devaluation might be misguided, we were slapped down with the great civil service putdown, that any deviation from policy would be ‘‘unwise’’.

The official view held that any potential devaluation would be catastrophic for the Irish economy. The official view was that, if we were to devalue, Ireland would suffer permanently in capital outflows, higher interest rates and higher unemployment.

In the event, after we were forced to devalue, money flowed into, not out of, the economy. Interest rates fell, as did unemployment.

In short, everything said by the Irish economic policy-making machine, the senior civil servants at the Central Bank and the Department of Finance, was wrong.

They hadn’t a clue. And do you know what happened to most of the senior civil servants who were involved with that policy debacle?

They were promoted! That experience suggested tome that satirical British comedy Yes Minister was not too far off the mark. The role of senior civil servants in Ireland’s lamentable performance should not be overlooked in the next ten weeks.

As the current Fianna Fáil/Green administration continues with its interpretation of the final act of a Shakespearean tragedy (ie, nobody left standing in the end), it is worth taking a hard look at the civil service – otherwise know as the ‘permanent government’.

Yes Minister cast a satirical eye over the role of senior civil servants and their disdain for the politicians they served. In that series, Sir Humphrey, the fictional senior mandarin, is concerned mainly with maintaining the status quo, with the civil service kept strong and the elected government weak.

A direct comparison between the Irish civil service and the fictional Sir Humphrey is probably a bit unfair, but there are some interesting similarities between how Sir Humphrey exercised and maintained his power and how Fianna Fáil governments over the past 13 years have sought to do the same.

Sir Humphrey was a genius at getting his allies appointed to (allegedly impartial) boards and agencies in order to maintain influence over decisions that were meant to be impartial. Fianna Fáil has spent the last 14 years setting up quangos which it has stuffed with its own party faithful, and failed TDs, in order to do the same.

On March 11, the electorate can, if it wants, evict Fianna Fáil from government and choose others to run the country. We cannot, however, remove the members of the ‘permanent government’ who have risen to positions of power over the last decade and a half. These mandarins are at least as guilty as the elected administration for the catastrophic events of the last five years.

If you think this is unfair on senior civil servants, look at the arrangement revealed in January last that shielded 600 senior civil servants from the full effects of the pay cuts.

These pay cuts were levied on ordinary public service workers. While an ordinary nurse or teacher was getting a pay cut of 8 per cent, the salary of an ‘assistant secretary’ – earning €150,000 a year – was cut only by 3 per cent. For Ireland, a change of government is an absolute necessity.

But it is also necessary to change how government works. It is clear from its record over the past ten years that the Department of Finance has made mistakes.

The department, as with most others, works behind closed doors and occasionally emits projections, budgets and advice.

Without clarity on how any of those are reached, why should the people of Ireland accept those reports as fact? Every single one of its economic forecasts in the boom and the bust was wrong, so why should we believe anything it says?

Any candidates who are elected with a mandate for change will have their work cut out for them.

The top of the civil service will fight any interference with the status quo.

For them, the status quo is that they are permanent and the government elected by the people is temporary.

Fianna Fáil may well be a spent force after the coming election, but the shadow cast by its 13 years in power is long – and the various quangos, boards and ‘makey uppey’ state agencies will prove a formidable barrier to real change. But that’s the real challenge.

Real change begins, not just in the Dáil, but in the corridors of power that surround it.

David McWilliams will teach a ten week diploma, Economics without Boundaries, from February 7 at Independent Colleges


  1. Anglo Irish

    To paraphrase Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the Batman movie “This country needs an enema”.

    “Who you know” rather than “What you know”

    and

    “Unquestioning loyalty” rather than “Objective performance”

    have been the principles for preferment throughout Irish Life.

    This system has infected politics, public service, the legal profession, the unions and even the church.

    Unquestioning loyalty also gave the world the Nazis and Year Zero.

    We need to fundamentally rethink how we operate as a society. This crisis gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity that it would be a tragedy to waste.

    • Deco

      +1.

      The Irish Concept of Management is Flawed.

      Throw it out, and start afresh. Time for a new concept of management.

      Perhaps, it might be possible in a regional centre, or a regional university, that a concept of management that is the antithesis of the Irish Management Institute, might develop and provide this counterpoint. It will have to survive without sponsorship.

      This is the way these schools of intellectual discovery develop – as a counterpoint to something that looks good, but is flawed in some way and needs to be improved upon. Austrian economics developed in Vienna as the antithesis of the Historical School in Berlin in the 1880s – and in the German speaking countries, the Austrian school now predominates. The Japanese Philosophy of Management developed away from that which prevailed in the West, and was a Japanese approach to the same task. The Scottish Enlightenment developed in a breakaway from the centralist and prevailing intellectual developments in Paris and London in the mid 1700s, with the Scots having much influence on the US, and it’s formation – in addition to the industrial revolution. Silicon Valley developed a business and innovation culture that the was very different to that that existed in the principal economic regions of the Atlantic corridor, and the US Mid West in the 1950s. Now, these are bigger in scale – but the concept is much the same. In a centralized system this is less likely to occur.

      Perhaps in a centre like Galway, Limerick, or Cork – it might be possible to have a local effort to rethink management. Or even in West Dublin/NE Kildare – along the main growth poles exist. As the anthithesis of the rubbish coming from the IBEC companies, the centralised state, and much of Irish business. Basically, where it will develop freely of the intellectual blinkers of the dominant management culture.

      Something in the direction of this – though this is mild, very mild.
      http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1015732.shtml

      I reckon that we need to go even further. The companies listed might not be the best performers. I reckon that there are better performers. And we need to think about the organization unit of 50-100 employees.

      I reckon we need to analyze Japan, Singapore, Silcon Valley, Southern Germany, Israel, and find an Irish answer to the standards raised by the management ethos prevalent in those societies. Also examine past success stories like the agricultural co-operative movement 100 years ago, and certain technology clusters attached to university locations.

  2. irishminx

    Was their silence then, “The good room syndrome” David?

    I agree, Ireland needs to rid itself of the Top Civil / Public servants, (though servants is an oxymoron!!)and all their pals on all the boards et al!

    This is a huge opportunity for us, do you think we are up for it?!?

    I hope so.

  3. David Mc Williams Is it your fear that prevents you taking your place as our representative in next Dail.?
    “Any candidates who are elected with a mandate for change will have their work cut out for them.”

    When Shane Ross and Joe Higgins are singing the same song its time to focus the debate on the only issue of this election Rejection or Acceptance of IMF / EU debt sentence.

    • malone

      The problem with getting involved with politics
      is that you can get infected and be beaten down by the system and become institutionalised.
      George Lee is a fine example.
      Whereas being outside the system one can deliver a lot more accurate punch and influence a lot more people.
      I think Shane Ross has become immunised somewhat but whether he can get elected or not is a good question and what he can do in there with the big political heavy weights is another question

  4. uchrisn

    JP Morgan were saying that Irelands interest rates should be dramatically reduced. They are afraid they will have to cough up money to pay up for CDS or insurance for bondholders when Ireland defaults in a couple of years.
    The Dept of Finance has performed extremly poorly, I heard only a couple of phd’s there. I wonder if the people who have been making all the bobos have been replaced?

    • We can all bet that they have not been replaced.
      I will vote for the party that promises to demote the top layer of civil servants or their fist day in office with the words ” you shafted my predecessor, so you have to go”,

  5. Lius

    Our only hope if is Fianna Gale are a Junior partner in the next Government, otherwise they will smother Labour and do the same as Fianna Fail over time.

    The ultimate result in the election which could give the country the much needed enema would be a Labour/SinnFein/Independant Government. I fear the Irish public are still too weak minded to make this bold step.

  6. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick McGivney, David McWilliams, ManUnderMoon , Ré Dubhthaigh, andrew moloney and others. andrew moloney said: RT @davidmcw: New on the site: Real reform goes beyond politics http://dlvr.it/Dz0dk [...]

  7. paul

    The battle is to be won or lost in the next 3 or 4 weeks,everyone on this blog is already converted,the task is now to educate,inform and cajole friends, family members and any waverers to do the right thing on polling day.
    In the pub,at residents association meetings,after mass,wherever,the onus is now on contributors here to channel their knowledge and anger into electing a whole new type of political representative.
    It would be an absolute shame if all David’s work just goes to perpetuate an online talking shop.

    • Lius

      What about a “TEA PARTY”

      • BiggyWiggy Rogers

        Fis Nua look interesting.. anyone any views on them ? http://www.fisnua.com

      • Deco

        TEA = Taxed Enough Already.

        This is somethning the Tammany Hall supportive media here never mentions.

        In Ireland we can call it a B-TEA Party.
        Bullshitted To Enough, Already.

      • Tea Party? So you propose that we get some right-wing industrialists to fund a pseudo grass-roots organisation that supports policies that will make the rich, richer?

        We have that already, its called Fianna Fail.

        Any new party might as well be called the “Lets Have A Moan In The Pub Over A Few Pints Party”, its gonna be FG/Lab or Lab/FG government, so you might as well deal with that. Anything that does not address this gives them a free pass.

        Give them a mandate. Make them work for your vote, and don’t give it away cheaply. This is not a big problem, it boils down to talking to the handful of candidates in your own constituency. Not exactly an onerous task I think you’ll agree. This is pretty much how I’ll approach the problem:

        http://writetothem.wordpress.com/

    • TalentCoop

      What you say is true – the real fear is that people will just vote as they always have – the message of independence needs spelling out and getting behind.

      Also and I include myself as needy, economics is so important and invades every aspect of life, yet most of us don’t really understand it’s big picture. Lot of educating needed to enable people to spot the difference in messages and strategy on the economy to persuade them to change vote.

  8. SLICKMICK

    Can’t imagine FG or Labour standing up to Brussels or the mandarins in the service.Normal service continues after the election.Emigration back to the level of 1956 when 60,000 people emigrated.Same old cronies to run FF and FG.A few independents won’t make any difference.

    • Deco

      After Lisbon 1, GimmeMore stated “the Lisbon Treaty is a dead duck”. He engaged in a routine about respecting democracy. He then turned the other direction and decided to sell Lisbon 2.0.

      Kenny-lite was an even bigger fool.

      And then we had Michael Martin and those “Cast-iron” guarantees. Merkel is now tlaking about changing the contents, and making it a self-amending treaty. I can still remember his niceness on Newstalk. {“Sorry, but can I just clear up this dangerous myth – the Lisbon Treaty is NOT, I repeat, it is NOT a self-amending treaty. This is a lie. It is false. This is misleading the people. It is scaring the people. It is completely incorrect }. Go and ask Merkel you tosser. (…and that is supposed to be the salvation of FF ….forgeddaboutit!!)

      They are applying for the position of Governor General. In the previous empire, the position was appointed. In the NEU empire, we get to vote, as often as we like until we do it “correct”(sic).

      Nigel Farage, MEP, is correct – and Spin Fein’s poll numbers in the General Election will prove Farage correct.

  9. Perhapx

    A very good article. Thank you. Tell me more about how we can make those changes.

  10. wills

    OK, so there are 12 comments and only one apparent real name.

    WTF..??

    • coldblow

      Hi Wills

      We’ve had this before and we’ll have it again no doubt. I’m sure many, like me, are on their computer at work and just can’t give their name. I don’t think it matters much as I don’t think anyone takes anything that is said too seriously anyway!

  11. wills

    Posters going to assume fake names means alot.

    One must be xtra careful taking the comments as real.

    • Zaphod

      Hi wills, my name is Paul what’s yours?
      I intend to be president of the universe some day so I am getting use to the name Zaphod.

  12. wills

    This explosion of *fake names* is wrecking this forums credibility.

  13. Perhapx

    David would be a fine TD but he’d need the support of many like minded TD in order to win change. We need a DMW on every ballot paper.

    • wills

      Thats eazy for u too say n u cant even use a proper alias for god sakes!

      • Perhapx

        Thanks for that. It was easy enough to say what I said, full marks there. I am not too concrened about the alias issue as long as the message is clear enough for the average reader of this blog and I do not do anything for god sakes (or should that be God’s sake).

      • malone

        Mr Wills
        Would you mind please not infecting this forum and its excellent posts and also your own fine posts with text speak
        Thank you

        The forum has so far been spared from it

  14. wills

    Over n out, for now.

  15. NO HOPE

    13 billion euros per annum is spent on “makey uppey” quangos. If we can get politicians who have a half a brain in their heads and real power after the election, we can start to grow by getting rid of these jobs for boys glue factories. Then of course we need real politicians who will tell these banks to get stuffed, and their bondholders of course.
    There are 2 simple solutions to our economy. No matter how many euros we claw back from blind old ladies and their carers we cnnot come right if we dont do those 2 simple things above. Yes, tanks be to God FF have finally collapsed but we are now left with a farcical empty government, led by a minority party with no leader. Jesus Wept! Can you imagine the boys in the White House and Westminster laughing at us over their coffees. Those comments would be the making of a very good satirical comedy show.
    P.S. David- are you going to run or not, in the next election? I am keen to hand out flyers and do some admin for a politician who could actually engagee his brain in the Dail.

  16. Deco

    David – you do not have to put your name on the ticket for Dun Laoghaire. At this stage the options on the list in DL are so dire, that it is conceivable that ordinary citizens might write your name on the ballot paper for you.

    In fact, I reckon you would get elected in DL without canvassing. Those of us who seen the FrontLine program on Monday 17 January can see what turkeys are available in your constituency. The country faces a great challenge. But the greatest challenge in the collection of opportunist hoors attracted to political power. In order to be a banana republic – you need an easy going mentality, a media that provides commentary in accordance with the wishes of “our advertising sponsors”, and a pervasive culture of pretence and pantomine in the political system. We evidently have enough to fit description.

    This is what the bloggers on politcs.ie thought of the candidates in Dun Laoghaire.
    http://www.politics.ie/dublin/148475-rte-frontline-17th-jan-dun-laoghaire-ge-candidates-gilmore-declines-invite.html

    You will get elected without any effort. Now, you are stating that you will not be able to reform the system, because the “Sir Humpfrey Factor”. Well, if a person who has respect the length and breadth of the land, cannot feel that he is capable of fixing the system, even the smallest part of then WHO CAN ?

    The country is now going out of the frying pan into the fire. We have wondered were there worse muppets than FF to have in power, and it turns out we are inundated with worse options. And it seems as if we cannot jump fast enough. We are not analyzing our predicament fast enough, and there is still too much stupidity floating around and calling itself “public opinion”.

    I do not think that the state system is the real problem. I think the real problem is the media. Various organs of the media are facing severe technological challenge, and are becomming obsolescent. They need some state subvention – like pages of HSE appointements, or local authority appointments to keep in business. In fact the media need quangoes.

    I do not know what is happening, but I sense that powerful vested interests are playing for territory behind the scenes with a view to the way things will operate after the election.

    Now, at this stage I must decide how much time I can contribute in future to blogs like this. I may as well be honest. This takes up time. If I am making a contribution to my society by this means, then all and well. But if it is just a means of providing an economist who did us all a great service, then I can do this. And if I can provide truthful analysis in a country where the media is generally playing sophisticated games of nuanced deceit, then I will keep going. But also, I suppose there needs to be an objective, that we are contributing towards. I must decide if I can continue. I have to value my own time also, and to know that it will result in some form of advancement for our intellectual culture. Most of the time I feel as if I am really against it.

    David – if there are personal reasons why you do not wish to go forward – then be honest with us, and say as much. As a citizen, you have the right to do, and to decide what no to do, as you wish. That I think we will all respect. Be honest with us. George Lee was honest about it, and people respect him for it. (though when FG get into power, he might end up transferring to Indo News).

    I doubt that Paul Somerville will be bothered about inept civil servants. Shane Ross has already blasted at the IBEC-ICTU farce. The same divide that opened after the Roy Keane Saipan saga is beneath the surface. And Shane Ross is the new Keane. The Reason versus Authority divide in this society over it’s Richeliue state complex is not over. It is about power. I am fed up with the pretend analysis in the Old Schitzo of D’Oliers Street and RTE, which is all directed at making sure that the entire state complex continues to be gargantuan, inefficient and nepotistic.

    The time has come for Shane Ross. No wonder the other parties are in a mad rush to get the election started as soon as possible. The dynamic is with Senator Ross and against the IBEC-ICTU proxy democracy fixup.

    Shane Ross Abu !!!

    • Colin

      Deco,

      Can you really see George Lee giving up his cushy number in RTE? He timed his exit from the Dail perfectly just in time to re-join RTE such that he would enjoy excellent pay and conditions, namely €100k a year and work one-day-a-week. What makes you think Independent Newspapers would match that?

      I know you’re a fan of George Lee and feel he was wronged by Fine Gael. If Ross, Sommerville and Mathews go the way Lee did, then and only then will I concede you are correct on this matter. Until then, its RSM(McW) Abu!

      • Deco

        Fair point.
        I am not sure about Matthews. He could have gone on the Shane Ross ticket in Wexford but the quota is massive (nearly 14000 votes or something). Reckoned to be the highest in the country at this stage.

        But in Dublin S, he will be squashed out of it. The two existing FG TDs will not want to help him. (They were loaded with joy when Lee announced that he was resigning). Shane Ross will get the Lee vote. And then Matthews will get transfers. But Matthews will have his work cut out for him.

  17. BiggyWiggy Rogers

    I have often thought this.. another good article David. I am reminded of a quote from Tony Benn which applies here.. “If you meet a powerful person–ask them five questions: “What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” If you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”

    Never a truer word….

    There’s no hope this is going to change unless we have some radical change from within the system.. just hope the electorate can vote for people who are prepared to take drastic action.

    I wonder if there is an option to privatise parts of the Civil Service in some shape or form… ?

    • Deco

      +1

      There is a lot of emotive language used concerning whenever anybody brings up the topic of privatizing the civil service. But there are significant parts of the public service that would be better off privatized.

      For example the ESRI. Honestly. Their forecasting record is abysmal. They cannot forecast if the sun will rise tomorrow morning. Nobody beleives them anymore. Sell the building, and subcontract the task to private organizations, on a tender basis. If the forecasts continue to be abysmal, then change the supplier. This thing of paying top dollar for ineptitude is an insult to the PAYE taxpayer.

      • BiggyWiggy Rogers

        Agreed. However I was discussing this issue with someone, and he suggested that it was all but impossible to implement due to the cost of redeploying or making redundant those who currently occupy CS positions.

        I argued back that if you don’t start, it won’t get better…

    • I would hazard that part of the reason the CS is so poor at doing its job is that (at the top at any rate) the public service remit is subsumed by empire building. Just make the CS transparent. The FOI act ensures that the default position is to hide government information. Reverse this and make publishing the default position. Publish everything.

      CS also need to be accountable, internally and externally. I think this is achievable by coupling transparency with a meritocratic system, including performance reviews that relate to discretionary pay increments. No reason also why even individual salaries should not be public knowledge.

      We pay a premium to have empire builders and wasters in the CS (but to characterise the whole CS as such is of course insane), and that serving the public is low on the priority list for some decision makers in the CS.

      I would look at this first before paying a premium for a private company, arguably no better than paying a quango to do the same.

  18. Johno

    Was watching a week in politics last night with Lenihan on it. That man makes me so angry.

    I’m from Blanchardstwon , the consistency Lenihan represents. My mother runs a canteen in a school in the area. It would be in fairly working class area but my Mam was saying to me yesterday that teachers in the school pay for some students to eat. That they come to school hungry and cant afford to bring lunch or buy from the canteen. My mam isn’t as expensive as say a Spar shop.

    While he is on TV going on how we have turned a corner and they have started us on the road of recovery etc etc. I’m completely shocked by what my Mam informed me of. I would often think Ireland is becoming a 3rd world country , its not a thought to me its now a fact.

    I’m not easily shocked but children are going hungry while we bail out the banks.

  19. Gege Le Beau

    Folks,

    The old pay packet for the little it was worth is severly down to the point where I have to consider my position and decide whether it is worth remaining in Ireland or not, it is increasingly looking doubtful that I can remain, so it may well be back to an international organisation for me.

    I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am not sure when I will next be able to comment as the situation has reached crisis levels.

    This is the reality of what this government has done to hundreds of thousands of people.

    I won’t say I will be signing off entirely as I have gained from the interaction on this site and feel I have come to know some posters quite well, albeit in a virtual way, and if people decide to meetup thenI may just be able to make it, in the meantime I have decisions to make and solutions to find.

    I hope people stick to their guns and make the right mark next to the right candidate come election time. Hope to chat in better times.

    Best wishes,

    Gege Le Beau

    • Johno

      My wife and I have been talking about emirgrating ourselves. We are both lucky at the moment where we are both in jobs ( Im not sure how long I will be but i might ask peoples opinion about my job later ). I was saying to my wife , do we look into going now when we could afford to? Or wait n see what happens and not been able to afford it? I feel we are damned if we do and damned if we dont.

    • Gege – Its monday and I suggest you buy yourself a new jar of fresh coffee and on me as I did today and you will find a better solution .Dont feel dispair .Success is close on hands only that we need to think on the other side of our brain to find it sometimes.
      Think about ‘How will I make my next million?’ I am more concerned about that and do not want someone else to take that from me .I think the same applies to you too Gege.Think also about the road least travelled .Sometimes its ‘littered’ ….’with gold’.

    • Dorothy Jones

      Keep the faith Gege. It might be just one of those Radiohead moments: ‘Phew for a minute there, I lost myself…’ Meetup sounds good, plenty to talk about these days.
      Change will come if we facilitate it.

    • Deco

      Gege
      Not too sure what to say. Hang in there and do your best. Things are tough at the moment, but that does not mean that it will be any easier anywhere else.

    • Julia

      Gege, like everyone else I would say hang on in there. I would be very sorry to see you go. The cuts are very severe though, I got a shock myself this month when I got payed. A friend earned about E250 in overtime and came away with E60. He won’t be doing any more overtime.
      Anyway, your contributions bring humanity to the economic conversations on this site and are worth a lot to me.

    • michaelcoughlan

      Hi gege,

      If it is ok to ask what type of profession or skills do you have? You are very articulate and well read. I have tried to help other posters on the site maybe I may be able to help you even if only a small gesture.

  20. Enarques –

    In France there is a recognised process of qualifying to become a proper Civil Servant and this is completed through the ENA ‘Ecole Nationale d’Administration ‘ – Grande Ecoles in Paris .It was founded by charles de Gaule in 1945 and is recognised and proven technique to ensure positions are obtained by ‘ republican meritocracy’ only.

    Some famous alumni have completed these courses and include :

    Dominique de Villepin
    Jacques Chirac
    Sarkozy
    Jean Claude Trichet ( ECB)
    Alain Juppe
    Edouard Balladur
    Valery Gerard d’Estaing
    Segolene Royal
    Jean Paul Proust
    Lionel Jospin etc

    The Economist John Galbraith studied this process .
    The key point is that these “enarques” benefit from two main privileges: not only do they have a monopoly of the top administrative positions within the civil service, but also they can go into politics and industry without risk.

    I remember Willie O’ Dea saying he did the civil service entrance exam and the questions were rediculous such as how many eggs in a dozen.Now we know what that did to us today.

    • Deco

      You were doing fine until you started to list the “famous alumni”….They seem to be a let down on the aspirations and hopes for Charles de Gaulle….

      • Deco – you always proclaimed meritocracy and I have delivered it to you and that wont please you either so whats next? C’est la Vie !

        • Deco

          Oh, I have nothing against your idea. It is just that the list of eminent Frenchies that are provided, are good careerists, but not great administrators or policy makers…Trichet in particular concerns me..

          • the politics of France as in the rest of Europe have their own D4 similarities too (eg Neuilly in Paris) – purity is rare even the Glens of Antrim have their own sex lies and politics that wont pull wool over your eyes.How long does it take Shane R to take a bribe or to crunch his words into mince meat that we no longer understand ?.Statesmen is what we need.I do not think we have any .

          • Dorothy Jones

            John
            I really think that Shane Ross is of real moral fibre, and would not be corrupted.

            First thing I saw on the U-Bahn today in Koelln after arriving was an image of Brian Cowen on the News TV and a soundbite about the collapse of the irish Government.
            The viewpoints from my Client, colleagues and friends over the next few days here should be interesting. They might see events as a ‘Yes Minister’ scenario, but I think that they will see it as something not quite so benign…
            Who was it who started the ‘Sommerville and Ross’ reference on this post? Great!

          • Dorothy Jones – I am only inferring that it is only humane that temptations in politics at the highest level has its own burden to concede .After all why did Eve give Adam the apple?

          • Zaphod

            Fairy stories…”After all why did Eve give Adam the apple?”
            Character assassination…”How long does it take Shane R to take a bribe or to crunch his words into mince meat that we no longer understand ?”
            Personal greed…”how will I make my NEXT million ?”
            I don’t like you atall John ALLEN.

        • Dorothy Jones

          Best of Luck in the Berlin Marathon .

  21. mishco

    Time to walk the walk David – an easy act to follow but a tough role to play.

  22. Good luck David. You might as well give it a punt as an independent, you have little to lose from doing this. I’ve come to the conclusion that personal circumstances are unlikely to change with a changing Government. The rest of the world is recovering and Ireland is in stasis. I will use my vote responsibly, I hope. I certainly won’t give it cheaply. Beyond that, I see a trip to the airport in the near future.

  23. David & Politics

    I do not think David should become a politician .He has too much to loose .He also has too much to give too .He can give in another way that does not risk his family and I am sure he will do that in good time.Shane Ross is not a spring chicken and his rope is short .

  24. David, a pot shot which scores a direct hit on one of the main enemies of real democracy. The article scores a bulls eye.
    Good stuff.

  25. Colin

    David,

    Dun Laoghaire looks congested. Stand in Dublin West and take out the Master Spoofer himself. You’ll do the country a huge favour.

    • Colin – if David goes into politics then chickens can fly .

    • Deco

      Congested with what ? Congested with muppets. Nobody is impressed with them. Gilmore thinks they are so bad, he deliberately ignored showing up on Frontline with them, in case they did collateral damage to his image.

      The existing candidates in DL are useless.

      And then there is the obvious issue – do any one of them know anything, even the slightest bit, about economics ?

      • Colin

        I meant congested with competitors. Only 4 seats available now, not 5 as was previously the case. Like it or not, people voted in their thousands in the previous elections for Andrews, Hanafin, Gilmore, Cuffe, Barrett as well as Boyd-Barrett, so people there have a history of voting for muppets that seems unlikely to end now. I’m sure Sinn Fein will have sopmeone standing there getting a sizeable amount of votes too, meaning there’ll be less floating votes there for David.

        • Deco

          David will not need floating votes. These turkeys are ready to be taken out. A collection of spoofers the lot of them. Contrary to the views of the South Dublin perspective media, the South Dublin constituencies elect some really unbeleivable of muppets. And an awful lot of them get elected.

          David as an independent only needs one vote. All he needs is number 1. He would hammer every one of the above, and any one of the above. In fact, I reckon a crash test dummy is more electable that the collection of muppets going for election in Dun Laoghaire.

          It is a competitive environment – and frankly speaking the competition are rubbish. Perfect for David to take them out of it.

  26. Rory

    All 4 mainstream parties want to get the finance bill through. Which means all 4 parties want to avoid going to the country with a yes no on acceptance / rejection of the imf eu debt sentence. We will have a change of govt, fg lab will enact draconian ff policies, the people will become exasperated and vote ff in the election after this. ff know this, fg and lab are chicken. The first of them to declare that they will reject the debt sentence will win by a landslide. But they are afraid they will not get the nice job and the roll on into brussels for being compliant.

    • Deco

      Ah yeah….But Joan Burton told us in December that the country was banjaxed as a result of the Budget…and the Finance Bill is it’s implementation…so we can assume that she does not want it through…

  27. adamabyss

    Didn’t get the webmaster notification email for this one – subscribe.

  28. Josey

    Look who’s back!!! Josey’s back.
    Fir time I’ve been able to log in and leave a comment in months.

    Anyone heard of Direct Democracy??? They’re trying to register as a party for the election, they need 300 signatures.

    Have a guu here:

    http://www.directdemocracyireland.org/

    They advocate referenda on demand, subject to petitioning a certain percentage of the population. So if enough people disagree with a bill or piece of legislation they can bring it to a public vote.

    It would stop politicians lying during their campaigning and we could stop them enacting laws that are against the national interest!!!

    • BnB

      So one of David’s silliest ideas (using the Irish gift of the gab to persuade rich yanks to help solve the Irish economic problems) has been turned into a quango, “officially sponsored and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs”. Great!

  29. Alas the glimmer of hope, or the merest possibility that things might be different under a new regime? Alas the dream has already passed! When all the main parties (with exception of Sinn Fein) are falling over one another to facilitate passing the Finance Bill.
    When we are hearing things like “Yeah we were against the budget and we’re still against it – but we’ll rush it through anyway!”
    Quite frankly it’s condescending nonsense, it all stinks and nothing has changed! The people have not or will not be listened to by many of the opposition parties. It’s FF all over again!
    Nothing has been learned!
    Call me naive but is morality somewhat passé?
    This society has adjudged Callelly right when morally he is clearly wrong!
    The Finance Bill does not have to be passed and the opposition can pull the plug tomorrow?
    But they won’t? Yep Morality is passé!
    And we Irish seem the best in the world at absolutely ignoring the facts when they stare us in the face – but the answers just don’t suit us?
    Green White and Gold no more – Just Yellow!
    (And this is my real name!)

    • Colin

      If I became the Minister for Education, the first thing I’d do is send a circular around every school to every teacher, instructing them to correctly inform their students that the colours of the national flag are Green, White and Orange (Not Gold, Not Yellow, Not Lemon), and explain the significance of the colours, Green for Catholic Nationalism, White for Unity and Orange for the Protestant Tradition in Ireland. If the textbooks are wrong, then change them, or if the textbooks omit this information, then edit it in.

    • Moriarty – I love that Kerry name .In my vernacular its a full name namely Murice Artois a relation of the famous beer inventor who arrived in Kerry with the French .He was the only Murice Artois to have become a complete surname …..just like the drink….an Original

      • Go on John I’m intriqued? Do tell me more? The legend of Murice must have eluded me?

        • You dont have a clue? Actually that is the clue .A Henry Clew from Mondalieu La Napoule whoes wonderful beach castle still stands and where you can have a tour anyday sent his private armada to Ireland and it is his name that is atested to the Clew Bay we now know.I dont want to give you a long story but it was the Sullivans of Adrigole whose preoccupation was to lure offshore ships to the coastal rocks and then loot the bloody lot .They did this by lighting fires near the rocks to deceive the crew and entice them on shore to a perceived safe landing place.
          Poor Maurice was one of those unfortunate rifle men on board .He was a dark haired man from Var whose love of olive oil was ledgebdary and had the appearance of Jackie Healy Ray junior when he swam ashore.He had brown eyes that were piercing .The locals never killed those that landed unless they were English.So he survived and prospered .So look in the mirror the next time and maybe you will recognise him.

          • By the way the name Dingle is a vikingised word of Dun na Gal or Donegal as it became elsewhere .ie the place for the boats Gal that first arrived in Ireland many many thousand of years ago ……Maurice had better conditions in his then modern French warship.

          • Thanks John,
            I got a terrible fright there when I misunderstood and thought that you were implying I was related to the Healy Rays. If that were the case I would have steered myself deliberately onto the rocks.
            I know the Moriarty family are closely related to the O Sullivan clan ( Whom you point out were in fact Pirates) which might explain why when I do look in the mirror I tend to go;
            A-a-a-r-r-g-h!

            Merci pour la Généalogie

  30. coldblow

    Hi David

    You probably have a better idea than me as to how far it’s a case of the politicians nobbling the CS and vice versa. My own impression is that the ethos in the CS is to protect the minister, but I don’t know what games they like to play at the highest levels.

    Re EMU and Europe in general, there was always a united front on the part of the main parties, to the extent that I always disliked them all. Again, I don’t know to what extent that’s down to serving vested interestse or to plain eagerness to serve their European masters, or even just a mistaken notion that this was the most ‘mature’ thing to do.

    There’s a bit of a contradiction in your article in that the first part refers to professional advice being overriden by political considerations while you then go on to castigate the CS for tying the politicians up in knots.

    Quangoes – correct of course about political appointees I’m sure. Where do you start in abolishing them? Disability Authority? Council for the Blind. Getting rid of Gaybo’s crowd gets my vote but I’m probably in a minority there. There’s a big interlinkage here with current pc obsessions. Maybe it’s just another manifestation of an inclination towards presentation over substance. Someone above says they cost 14bn pa, but that’s obvious nonsense – a good few million I’d say, mainly pay and office space and the rest on glossy brochures and websites that nobody in their right mind reads.

    This country has its good points of course but there is so much uisce faoi thalamh that it’s hard to know just what is going on. I agree with Deco that there’s almost certainly machinations and power-brokering going on in the background of the media and elsewhere. The powers that be/ insiders would probably find it easy enough to scare people into voting against their own interests somehow. Sometimes you feel it’s hard to trust anyone, so maybe it’s a question of asking yourself who do you trust the least and work it out from there. My own feeling is that most people still feel they have more to gain from the status quo than from change so while there’s sure to be endless talk it won’t mean anything much. I see the GP are going into opposition but will still support the Finance Bill. As they say nowadays: what are they like?

    The British seem to be almost casual about locking up miscreant MPs but here it would be such a sensation as to put RTE’s recent breathless ‘Dáil dramas’ in the shade.

    The whole elite, be they in admin, business, politics or whatever (and whether in the inner circles or just in the outer ones), seems to be concerned with self-preservation above everything. That’s just a gut feeling and I can’t give any evidence offhand. A law unto themselves.

    Is it a private school thing perhaps? I note that Andrew Neill has a prog. about the English public school system on BBC2 on Wed. eve.

    • Deco

      The whole thing is based on this presentation that will be provided to the people. If you vote out a political party that is trying to be a proxy for IBEC and ICTU (and the CIF) at once, and vote in one party that is a proxy for IBEC, with another that is a proxy for SIPTU (and by extension ICTU) – that you get “change”.

      Our media advertising sponsors are happy. The lobbyists in Brussels (including the anglo Bondholders, are happy). The unions are happy. And the sheeple will buy it, because they have been saturated with “analysis” about the need to it (“we must move forward (this way)”/”Time to move forward”…It is important that it happens so fast that nobody notices the difference…Main thing is that it has to happen before any new original political theories develop into political movements and candidates.

      The elitist culture is grounded in what is called “socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor”. It is the opposite to meritocracy, free markets, the welfare state, and institutional accountability. And it prefers monetarist economic theory and keynesian to any other – as they both involve spending stimulus plans. This are not contradictory as they might seem, as they both involve centralization of key macroeconomic planning decisions to people who can be either controlled, bought or influenced !!! It is all about control – forget about that left right spectrum – it is a delusion provided to us by the news media. It is a superficial and meaningless construct in the battle for control !! The one thing these people don’t want is capitalist consequences for capitalist failure. That is reserved for the fast food joint around the corner-but banks are too important for that sort of treatment !!!

      If you are well connected you can get a big company or state job regardless of your stupidity. You get fitted into the role. Seanie Fitz said that intelligence was never a consideration when hiring – but ability to connect with other cronies was the real skill !!! (No wonder Anglo went bankrupt – it hired lazy brained chancers and promoted them based on their ability to pretend and assimilate with other chancers !!!).

      You can use connections in the state system to bail out the bank whose bonds you hold, and which has no gone bankrupt. (Pass the message to tell Sarko ->to tell the EU Commision -> to tell Lenny -> to tell the Irish people…to pony up the cash).

      • coldblow

        As others are saying here it’s all just an act.

        I was fascinated by that picture of the GP leaders in the yesterday’s Indo, standing in a line with assumed hang-dog expressions. It’s the one I call the chipper look because I often saw it in the queue there. Or when there’s a funeral for a joy-rider and his school mates are snapped outside the church. It’s kinda shifty, pompous and vacant. Except ‘pompous’ is the wrong word. It’s more like that look of gravitas you get from the ‘ordinary innocent’ bystanders, the rabble who stand around watching someone getting his head kicked in and don’t lift a finger because, well, they are the public and therefore beyond reproach. (Was the Colisseum like this?) So it’s a kind of self-satisfied, I’m-standing-on-my-dignity (and if I have a laugh about it later with my mates you can’t prove it so don’t say anything because I am a member of the public) look. That last bit doesn’t apply to the Greens in the picture because here, while they indeed look shifty and vacant, it’s more a case of: ‘we are looking grave because this is serious and people are looking at us, we don’t really know what’s going on but don’t blame us anyway, we’re just as innocent as the rest of you’. (Final answer)

  31. Deco

    I am just sitting here trying to digest this latest newsflash. And I am trying to absorb the following..
    http://www.independent.ie/national-news/labour-puts-forward-34hour-finance-bill-timetable-2508536.html

    Joan Burton spent forty minutes indicating that she is not happy with the Budget and the Finance Bill in the Dail in December 2010. This is at location http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY8AhuY8k0g and at another link on the side of the location.

    Trying to take all of this in….
    Was the display in December 2010 an act ?
    or is the display now, where she tries to get the Budget/Finance Bill through the house an act ?
    Maybe this whole thing about being an opposition is an act ?

    • Harper66

      Just listened to Gormless on matt cooper talk about the dire need for reform in the dail!!!!!!!!

      To answer your question its an act.

      • Deco

        Gormless trying to Reform the Dail….

        Surely this should have been included in the Program of Government that he kept telling us that he was committed to. And if it wasn’t he could have included in the several revisions that occurred each time Dan Boil tweeted. Presumably it would a higher priority than fox hunting and having another layer of local government in Dublin ?

        Maybe he is throwing shapes about being as much into reform as from Paul Sommerville (in his constituency) and Shane Ross (in his pal Eamonn Ryan’s constituency).

        • Harper66

          agreed on all of the above.

          2008 – 2010 was the bankruptcy of the establishment. As we know they were bailed out. It was a period where FF covered for, and protected, their own interests and those of the bankers and developers. As far as they are concerned the files have been shredded and the tracks have been erased.Job done.

          2011 – 2012 will be bankruptcy of the citizen. Noone is going to bail them out. People need to be wise and demand of the canvassers calling to their doors that action is taken in the dail to defend their interests.

          I see more and more comments about children going hungry etc. This is common place people are going cold and hungry and this is ignored by the majority of our political parties. I see it in my work day to day. People are quietly struggling on and the effects of their inslovency is being masked by this current governments policies (or lack of policies).The entire country is living in a state of pretense and our media facilitates it.

          What is needed is a dose of realism. I wish david would run.It looks like he wont which is a pity as I could see FG getting enough seats to form government with a small group of independents.Also with Bruton in the wilderness why couldn’t finance be given to one of the independents… I consider FG unpalatable and am very much left in my thinking but again being realisitic labour is too compromised and needs to be humbled.

          It is a real pity if david does not run his blend of economics and humanity is exactly what is needed.

          • Deco

            Not too sure about Bruton myself. He is an economist with degrees from Oxford or Cambridge (can’t remember which). But he bought Anglo shares, AIB shares and CRH shares. He also bought shares in McInenerney Builders and they have been declared bankrupt.

            He did not see this coming – because if he did he would not have made such abysmal investment decisions.

            Really, the situation is crying for David, George Lee or Constantin to step forward and aim for the Dail and rip into the clowns in there.

  32. Lenihan on RTE evening snooze claiming that Fianna Fail has a long and honuorable tradition. Later in the same bulletin was a report on skyrocketing levels of suicide in Ireland. Totally out of kilter with reality and makes me think that FF and their gang are completely insane and/or sociopathic

  33. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0506/breaking51.html

    The DoF made a few mistakes. For example, budget deficit for 2008 was forecast at €1.5, but turned out to be an actual budget deficit of €13 bn…

    ““There’s no doubt at all that the Department of Finance, and other parts of Government and the State system and other economic agencies made mistakes . . . but that sort of notion of a deliberate, almost traitorous scheme is unfair.”

    Responding to a question by Jim O’ Keeffe as to whether the staff at the Department of Finance was sufficiently well-qualified to deal with the “complexity of modern finance”, Mr Cardiff said the department needs to increase its level of specialist skills, adding that the “generalist nature” of the service can be a weakness as well as an asset. He said that the department had taken professional advice from bodies such as Merrill Lynch, the Central Bank, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Financial Regulator.

    Adding that he “was not in disagreement” with some critics of the department about the skills and skill mix of staff members, he said the very fact that the department hired outside staff to deal with the financial crisis shows it was not in a position to give good enough advice.

    On the subject of bonuses paid to staff at the assistant-secretary grade in the Department in 2008, Mr Cardiff said if he had been secretary general department at the time he “would have considered it better”.

    Today was Mr Cardiff’s first appearance before the PAC as head of the Department of Finance. The former head of the taxation and financial services division within the department was appointed as new secretary general of the department in January. The secretary general of the Department of Finance is the most senior position in the Irish Civil Service. The holder is also chief of the entire Civil Service.”

    We need a full inquiry into the role of the DoF in the financial crisis.

    Without lifting the blame from Cowen and Lenny, the fact is financial decision making on the banks has to a large extent been led by a small group within the DoF.

    Note the extraordinary admission by Mr Cardiff above, “department needs to increase its level of specialist skills” and “the very fact that the department hired outside staff to deal with the financial crisis shows it was not in a position to give good enough advice”

    The outside advice was from:

    “such as Merrill Lynch, the Central Bank, the National Treasury Management Agency and the Financial Regulator”

    Surely there is no greater an example of the blind leading the blind.

    First thing the new Min Fin needs to do, is to acquire the specialist skills his Dept needs, look to best practices worldwide with the view to root and branch structural reform.

    Fire those responsible for recent mistakes and establish an independent think tank within the Dept
    to provide ongoing service improvements and address any perceived weaknesses.

    Do not commission reports from Merrill Lynch or G Sucks or any paper warrior institutions already compromised by their footholds elsewhere.

    A good team in place should be able to make gravy and avoid infection from the corruption of destructive political interference.

    However, this may be difficult inside a banana republic plutarchy:)

    • Deco

      Concerning the issue of whether or not the DoF is up to the job – the DoF should forget all the elabourate sophisticated explanations and admit it. The answer was “No” and probably still is !!

      • TW

        Deco, I wholeheartedly agree that the DoF should be clearly stamped -Not fit for Purpose- for its shambolic efforts in predicting the current crisis. It clearly has an over-reliance on status-quo preservation and acceptance of prevailing group-think rather than clear economic analysis. I know there was a massive dearth of trained economists in the entire organisation (with one or two having to be seconded from the ESRI) in the early-mid ’00s. In fact the numbers of economists engaged in real economic contingency planning in the Public Sphere was shrunk throughout the life of the FF/PD govt.

        But this was not the result of a ‘lapse’ of planning on the part of the DoF, it was the result of a huge amount of planning and policy making by the government of the day who’s principal economic policy was the conversion of the Irish Economy to a ponzi scheme model. To do this a plethora of minor changes were enacted to remove oversight over the direction the economy was taking. The only way they could implement the Celtic Con-Job was through acts of institutional vandalism, in the Civil Service, in the consolidation of all power to the executive in the Oireacthas, in fact in almost every facet of Irish life.

        It must be also noted that these policies were wildly popular with the electorate, ensuring the party that conceived and implemented them was granted a full mandate to continue their decimation of any organisation that wouldn’t tow the party line.

        They were also wildly popular with the media and business classes as this country was drowned in cheap credit.

        The DoF cannot simply come out and say ‘Sorry lad’s we’re banjaxed’ because firstly that would cause yet another confidence-rocking scandal in this benighted country, but more importantly, the banjaxing of the DoF was the concerted policy of the elected representatives of the citizenry and no Civil Servant can publicly criticize or comment on the policies of an elected government in their capacity as a Civl Servant.

        I wholeheartedly support calls to make the civil and public service efficient, independent and focussed on the development and encouragement of staff for the benefit of the nation. However, any plan to do so must stay focussed on the historical context.

        A civil service is only as good as the body politic it serves, in a culture were a corrupt Taoiseach could appoint his partner and alleged accomplice in a money-laundering scheme to a board position on the National Consumers Authority on the grounds that she was a small business owner and then have this decision so lauded by the largest paper in the country that they made her a columnist and nobody of any import batted an eyelid.

        That’s the real reform we need to see.

  34. BrianC

    Real reform may go beyond politics but for now we are faced with voting for the same product with a different package.

    We need new politicians to deliver new politics to drive change and deliver accountability. The politicians need to reinforce the fact that the civil service remains our obedient servants who carry out the will of the people under the directon of our elected representatives.

  35. BnB

    David wrote “the Irish representatives never took part in any of the debates. Why was this? Was it because they were afraid to offer an opinion?”

    Maybe the real reason is that they were afraid that if they opened their mouths the representatives of the other countries would bring up the subject of Ireland’s low corporation tax. The Irish thought they if they kept a low profile they could get away with riding two horses at the one time, the EU and the multinationals. Things have changed now that Ireland is under the spotlight and is in a weak position.

  36. BnB

    I find it hard to believe this “Yes Minister” image of civil servants running rings around the government. While there must be a lot of bureaucracy that ministers have to deal with, they could get things done if they really wanted to, it’s just that running the country properly and efficiently is not a priority for the vast majority of politicians.

    Politicians have been under very little pressure from the voters to do that sort of real work. Instead, the deal is that they fix pot holes and get people their grants, medical cards etc. in return for their generous salary, expenses and pensions. This leaves the civil servants to make the decisions about the really important issues.

    This is probably the only time in the state’s history that a government could push through real reform of how the civil service and government agencies are run. Unfortunately the only parties that stand any chance of forming the next government learned their trade in the old days when they picked up a lot of bad habits, so they’ll opt instead for increasing taxes and slashing spending for the poorest and weakest.

    The most radical of the potential government leaders is Labour’s Eamon Gilmore who would take a salary of ‘only’ 190,000 as Taoiseach, far more than most of the equivalent prime ministers abroad. And now he’s planning to back the Finance Bill in return for the chance to get into government as soon as possible. This will speed up his coming to power not just because of the earlier election date but also by minimising any real debate on his policies and by giving independent candidates less time to prepare.

    I’ll be watching the election coverage with interest, but only as a soap opera. Maybe the general election after this one will bring real change….

  37. “We are absolutely against the morally bankrupt Budget and Finance Bill but will facilitate it’s quick passage!”

    Equivalent to saying -

    “We are absolutely against capital punishment but will help speed up the building of the gallows!”

    A-a-a-a-a-g-g-g-g-h-h-h!
    A-a-a-a-a-g-g-g-g-h-h-h!
    A-a-a-a-a-g-g-g-g-h-h-h!
    And
    A-a-a-a-a-g-g-g-g-h-h-h!
    Oh! and;
    A-a-a-a-a-g-g-g-g-h-h-h!

  38. Harper66

    EDITORIAL – TODAYS FT

    Brian Cowen, the prime minister, was forced into calling early elections on Thursday, to resign as party leader on Saturday, all after winning a confidence vote from his parliamentary party on Tuesday. His discredited leadership had been challenged after undisclosed meetings with Sean FitzPatrick, the banker at the heart of the financial crisis, came to light. What followed was utterly cynical….

    Six members of the cabinet resigned and Mr Cowen tried to give an electoral leg-up to lesser-known Fianna Fáil MPs with scattergun offers of ministerial portfolios. This reshuffle — and eventually the government itself — was scuttled by the party’s Green coalition partners, leaving Fianna Fáil in meltdown and mutiny.

    These factional antics, as Ireland faces arguably the worst crisis in its history as an independent nation, could turn the expected Fianna Fáil rout at the polls into electoral annihilation.

    That may be richly deserved. This is, after all, the party that through its cronyism and incompetence artificially prolonged the boom of the 1990s into the credit and property bubble of the past decade, and then gave a blanket guarantee to its banker friends that has ended in the humiliation of Ireland becoming a ward of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

  39. Malcolm McClure

    David: The ‘Yes Minster’ scenario you present is an inadequate response to the events of the past week. We are in the midst of a crisis of Government and you seem to divert our attention to the historic role of the Civil Service.

    Granting all respect due to your accumulated accomplishments, what was a young whipper-snapper of high intelligence, but in 1990 presumably hot-foot from Russia, doing helping to draft Irish submissions about the Maastricht treaty? And you say that your preparation for this formidable task was to absorb the apparent absence of any written Irish contribution to the debate?

    Despite the many calls here for you to become involved in politics, it seems to me that your ultimate ambition is not to change things through democratic participation in government but rather to reform the Civil Service, hopefully not on a Soviet model. It’s time to make up our mind about what you really want out of life.

    • An excellent question dear Malcolm.

      Time for the real David McWilliams to step forward and take a bow perhaps?

      It is not unreasonable for long standing contributors to any blog wanting to know more about the man behind the profile. After all comments are the life blood of any blog. When a person becomes high profile online he can become a prisoner of his own creation :-)

      On reflection I am a bit unsettled at the article now as I have always said our host makes a far better economist than politician. Politics is a dirty game where nice guys get washed away like the snow in the rain

      It was some of the commentators on here who made me think about what I read and I thank them for keeping the rest of us grounded. What sounded great yesterday often quickly wears off when we think of the tomorrows ahead

      Regardless of who makes up the next government Ireland will always have an Everest to climb. And what is more we can do it given the time and tenacity to root out all the backward gombeen thinking in Irish society

  40. DB4545

    I was looking at the Main Parties on the “Frontline”. Shiny suits and shiny faces but no substance and nothing new or fresh to offer. I think the Finance Bill is the 2011 version of the Act of Union. An earlier contributor made the point that this Finance Bill would render the Dail to the status of “Governor General” of a State within the European Empire. All the Main Parties want to sign up so they can keep the Circus running in Kildare street.The Dail will be a talking shop (if it is’nt already) with the banks and bondholders taking on the role of absentee landlords slowly draining the economic life from the country. This Piig can’t fly people.

  41. DB4545

    How about Lord Chancellor my distant cousin from Norfolk once held that position in Dublin and his name was John ALLEN .Should I write to the Queen ?

  42. Hill of Tara

    Election Date is 7 days after the full moon .By then the minds of the electorate will be exausted when they vote and its unlikely there will be a landslide winner….maybe a loser but thats not the same.
    We might have coalition of a coalition to form a representation.
    How many coalitions does it take to boil an egg?

  43. Bunga Bunga Politics

    It may seem through the crystal waters of mysticism that we could end up with a minority coalition .The number 4 pops up for the 25th .It could mean four main parties neither big enough to make a majority and neither coalition strong enough to make a government .We may have to invite Trapatoni to be Tainiste or Chairperson to induce the passion of Italian Politics .Its like who is your favourite waitress and how much can she take in tipps ( or traps).
    From another angle we may have too many independents that between them a government can be formed with a minor party .This maybe what we need to make way for a real change .
    One thing for sure FF will not loose as much .It will be significant but not a total decimation as we sometimes talk about .
    Irish politics will need now to entertain the following words to adapt to the new changes :

    Lemonchelo
    Mt Visuvious
    Mt Etna
    Capri
    Vico Road
    Bolougnaise
    Gondola
    Cornetto
    Pasta
    etc

    There will be new uses for the above as we evolve to the next level .

  44. Good article by Myers …
    ——————————–
    Alas, E-G-O is not the only trinity in Irish political life. The other is of the three Cs: cowardice, consensus and control. And it is the three Cs that define Irish politics above all else:

    C.1) Cowardice. No Irish politician ever dares espouse the outlandish, the bizarre or the unusual. C.2) Consensus. Irish politicians always seek the comfort of aggregates. They don’t fight lonely battles for what’s right. C.3) Control. Irish politicians love intruding upon other people’s lives, either by imposing some deranged and unreal morality on them, or by infantalising them with clientelist favours.
    ——————————————-

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/kevin-myers-why-i-wont-write-about-this-abomination-of-democracy-2508959.html

    Sounds pretty accurate to me. any thoughts?

    • He’s got the choice of bottling up his views on the coming election, or getting them down on paper and getting them out of his system.

      The former could give him raving nightmares for the rest of his life -> with lasting psychological effects on his ilk and progeny for generations to come plus it would deprive us of his sometimes gothic(k) meanderings:)

      mmm which is better:)

    • coldblow

      Very funny. Every interest is a special interest. This is the land, as Michael Hennigan of FinFacts is always pointing out, where the buck stops nowhere.

  45. Alan42

    I am not a fan of this article . Blame the mandarians. It just throws the mandarians in with NAMA , the guarantee , the Euro , bankers , regulators ,Developers , builders , Fingers and the Daddy of them all ‘ Seanie ‘

    I fell sorry for Seanie , what did he actually do ? Hid some loans from the auditors and drove his business bust . Did he guarantee Anglo ? ( As an aside note , look at the power that he has . He started the ball rolling on the end of Cowen by revealing a simple game of golf . I wonder what else he knows ? )

    Leadership comes from the top . If the top mandarians don’t speak up at meetings of Eurozone countries its because the Minister has no clue or no interest in whats going on .

    How many times have you gone into a hotel and met a Basil Faulty ? Yes Minister is a British TV show . Politicians like to reference it because it gets them off the hook .

  46. SLICKMICK

    Bob Geldof said the best thing about Dun Laoire was the ferry terminal, how right.Noticed increasing queues outside the

  47. michaelcoughlan

    Hi Everyone.

    I know I am off topic but inkeeping with a post I made some time ago regarding thinking and acting positive to counter the never ending negative sh*te out there the following website has been established to put out good news stories only.

    http://econ-optimist.blogspot.com/

    regards,

    Michael.

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