An apartment in the Hassler Roma hotel booked for Minister for Tourism Séamus Brennan's two-day trip to Italy last year cost €1,650 per night. According to the Irish Times, Brennan said the accommodation had been a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs - a well worn ritual in Irish public governance: Pass the Buck!
It's fine for those who can get away with it and that is the Irish system. Double-digit pay levels for 35 ministers - 20 Ministers of State and most of them have nothing of substance to do and so on.
In December 2005, 30 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) flew to Hong Kong to "monitor" progress in the Doha trade talks, where they demanded almost daily updates from Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, despite the fact that as parliamentarians they had no role in the negotiations.
It's easy to be generous to yourself, with business class travel and top-notch hotels, when someone else is paying.
Three Irish Ministers brought an entourage of 21 civil servants to the same meeting - - Freeloaders to reduce Air Travel in interests of Planet! Like hell they will!
What should the staff in many Irish SMEs think, where even the receptionist keeps track of news of monthly orders received?
The Health Service Executive should adopt "a bold and innovative" redundancy programme, the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney said on Wednesday.
Speaking during a Dáil debate on cancer services, the Minister said: "If people in areas of administration or management are superfluous to requirements and there are shortages elsewhere, we should take a bold and innovative approach and consider introducing a redundancy programme".
Harney said redundancy packages should have been offered when the HSE was first formed. "However, this approach was not supported politically or by the trade unions."
Redundancy programmes had not generally been offered within the public service, and "may not have been successful" in the organisations where they had. While she acknowledged that staff shortages exist in some quarters, she said the 130,000-strong health service is well-staffed. "Our acute hospitals have one of the highest ratios of staff to beds in the world," she said.
Harney is the acting leader of the Progressive Democrats Party (PDs), which is currently on a respirator.
The PDs had provided hope that it would push for reform of governance structures where the messenger boy system of local politics produces second raters who are clueless when assuming ministerial responsibility.
The PDs flunked it and now is on the road to oblivion.
In the 1997 general election campaign, a botched proposal on public sector reform, involving the loss of 25,000 jobs, threw the PDs on the defensive as it struggled with its cocktail of soundbites to respond to charges about cutting benefits for lone parents. In the intervening eleven years, job numbers in the public service have risen by more than 80,000 and the PDs who supported benchmarking, had nothing to say on significant public sector reform other than the back-of-an-envelope decentralisation policy. Former PD President Tom Parlon, had responsibility for implementing the politically inspired measure, that has become a national joke.
In the Dáil debate on the appointment of the Cabinet in 1997, Fine Gael's Alan Dukes said:
The Tánaiste said something very interesting to me on the last day of the previous Dáil. She commented: “I know Minister Dukes does not like soundbites, but if it can't be said in a soundbite it is not worth saying”. She should reflect on that because the electorate told her that in spades during the election. She was clobbered by soundbites and she is now a very junior partner in Government because of soundbites. People decided they did not want to fire 25,000 public servants, or oppress single mothers whose families are too numerous for them to live at home with their parents with another baby they did not expect, and so on. I hope for the sake of good government, if not for the sake of the parties in government, and for the kind of politics the Progressive Democrats is supposed to stand for — the party is supposed to be policy driven — that the Tánaiste has learned the lesson that soundbites are inimical to good politics. Life is more complicated than a soundbite and I hope she has found that out.
It would have been possible to articulate a credible position on public service reform in 1997 without any jobs being threatened because the number of additional jobs since 1997, has been three times the proposed number of job cuts.
The Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said in October 2006 that problems in health and other public services cannot be solved unless working practices change.
Ahern said change and modernisation in the public service could be achieved only if staff extended their working day. He said it would not be possible to face challenges in the future if public sector workers wanted to work only six hours a day and take a half-day on a Friday.
Public service workers are no different to their private sector counterparts. When they work in a 1920's era system with limited or no accountability, what should anyone expect?