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Analysis/Comment Last Updated: Dec 20, 2010 - 8:17 AM

Irish Economy: Economic traitor cries treason; Slow-motion Government hits panic button
By Michael Hennigan, Founder and Editor of Finfacts
Mar 4, 2009 - 6:32 AM

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Irish Minister of Transport, Noel Dempsey: "Have you no sense of decency?"

Irish Economy: In recent days, the Irish people have been treated as absolute eejits, as an economic traitor who has sat at the Cabinet table for almost 12 years, has accused the property bankers of his party Fianna Fáil and real bankers, of treason, while at last, after a year of dithering, a Government, that is culpable in powering the economic tsunami, which is destroying the lives of tens of thousands of its people, promises remedial action.

Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey, has a brass neck, which in more boisterous times, would not spare the mob from putting it on a block. Even if a wrathful electorate ejected him and all his Cabinet colleagues from public life, for destroying the best opportunity for putting the Irish economy on a sustainable course, in the history of the State, it's galling, at 56, that Dempsey would begin with an annual income of €200,000 and then an index-linked pension of €130,000 annually.

In a country with a governance system, we have repeatedly highlighted as one where the Buck Stops Nowhere, the former schoolteacher, true to form, accepts no responsibility for the monumental mismanagement of the economy but compares his erstwhile property developer and banking friends to Oliver Cromwell - - the most hated man in the long history of the Irish people.

Earlier last week, Dempsey said those accused of wrongdoing in Anglo Irish Bank, had engaged in “economic treason.”

Last week-end, he told Fianna Fáil party members, that a small number of "money manipulators" had endangered Ireland’s economic survival.

"There’s no parallel in history for the damage they have done to this nation — except perhaps Cromwell.

"And even Cromwell was motivated by reasons other than personal gain,"
he said.

In the hypocrisy stakes, it would be hard to beat that and this from one of the highest paid politicians in Europe!

Personal gain indeed!

On his website, Dempsey asks: Who supported the teaching profession when Fine Gael sought to prevent payment of benchmarking increases to teachers?

Dempsey received two benchmarking increases -  -  as a TD and Minister - - and the average payout was 9%. Benchmarking was shown to have been based on a fraudulent premise, which has cost the Irish State billions. Treason anyone?

"There’s no parallel in history for the damage they have done to this nation..."

The Irish language expression is apt: Aithníonn ciaróg, ciaróg eile (One hedgehog recognises another).

Minister Dempsey, your party wrecked the economy in the late 1970's, and you and your Cabinet colleagues, have done the same over the past decade, with terrible consequences for our people.

"Have you no sense of decency?"

On Tuesday evening, the Government signalled, that an emergency  budget will be announced at the end of the month, in response to the latest dire Exchequer returns.

The Government has matched its monumental mismanagement of the boom with a stunning paucity of leadership, since the onset of the economic crisis.

Policy on taxation, public spending, public sector reform, has been outsourced to review groups.

The staggering incompetence would be laughable, if it wasn't so serious.

On Tuesday, the Irish Times reported, that Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley, in response to a question, if he expected rank-and-file Greens at this weekend’s party conference to complain about the party’s association with Fianna Fáil, said the polls were holding steady and the party was making significant achievements in government.

“If you look at what we are getting . . . in terms of recycling, insulation programmes and even this week the legislation I am publishing on spending limits on local election,”he said, while also noting that Green Ministers’ budgets were increasing even during the recession.

The economy is on fire and Gormley hails his thin laundry list of "significant achievements"!

His Faustian bargain, also merits the appropriate answer from the public.

As for Taoiseach Brain Cowen, one can only wonder at the paralysis and stunning failure of leadership.

People who have little compared with himself, are being asked to sacrifice but even when Ministers of State admit in public, that they have joke jobs, Cowen sticks to the status quo.

Last week, the Oireachtas Commission held an emergency meeting and agreed on a proposal to cut politicians'  extravagant allowances by 10%.

Like some of the high earners at the State-owned broadcaster RTÉ, who had piggy-backed on the construction boom to feather their own nests, and conceded a 10% pay cut following a public outcry, the penny has yet to drop.

This country of just over 4 million, cannot afford to be among the most expensive in the world, with the high costs, which were built on a system, that had a foundation in quicksand.

Turlough O'Sullivan, Director General of the business group IBEC said on Tuesday after the issue of the Exchequer Returns: "It is good news that the government has said it will take action by the end of the month. IBEC has been advocating the urgent need for a national recovery plan based on three key principles; restoring order to banking, making a significant beginning to getting the public finances back in balance and putting supports in place to help enterprise protect the maximum number of jobs.

"While positive moves have been made by government to manage the banking crisis, it is increasingly clear that the pension levy will not make the hoped for substantial contribution to addressing the deteriorating position in the public finances. In addition, no measures have been taken to address the cost and competitiveness pressures endured by business and exporters to the sterling area in particular. In the meantime, jobs continue to be lost at an alarming rate."

IBEC said it was positively disposed to engagement with government and others, including ICTU and the main opposition parties, to address the economic crisis in a decisive, fair and equitable manner. This should be done immediately.

IBEC highlighted a range of measures needed address the current situation:

  • An early Mini Budget to address deficit in public finances. Further spending cuts are needed and all income earners should pay their fair share of tax.

  • Innovative supports for enterprise and job retention by diverting funds from the NDP.

  • Indefinite deferral of increases under NWA. All pay levels must reflect the new reality in the economy.

  • Industrial peace agreement for the next three years.

  • Freeze on all public charges/costs, local authority rates, energy etc.

  • Reduce costs and numbers of Ministers of State, Dáil Committees and abolish the Senate.

  • Promotion by Business and government of better governance and oversight.

  • Disposal of non-essential state assets.

  • Introduction of means testing for welfare benefits. The economy cannot afford universality.

  • Provide targeted support for retraining.

  • Support to the maximum extent possible front-line services in hospitals, education etc.

  • Modernise public sector including pay, numbers, work practices and pensions.

  • Prompt payment by public service within 10 days of invoicing for contracts with suppliers.

  • Support private sector pensions with State Annuity and easing of burden of Funding Standard.

  • Moratorium on new regulation.

  • Leniency by lending institutions with mortgage arrears.

Financial Times Video report from Dublin on the Irish economy

Courtesy of the Irish Election blog

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