Surreal Ireland: In the first of an irregular
series, we look at some developments in the context of Ireland's bankrupt state
or State, with the issues of unemployment, teachers, judges and tribunal legal
fees in focus.
This month, the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development warned of lingering unemployment and it listed
member countries where jobless rates had jumped by more than two percentage
points since the crisis began. They included Ireland in second place with a rise
of over 8 percentage points, the UK, Italy, Greece, Portugal, the US - - where
the jobless rate has risen five percentage points - - and Spain, where the
jobless rate has risen more than 12 percentage points.
"A main concern in countries most severely hit is that persistently high
levels of unemployment - - and a rising share of unemployed workers facing long
spells without a job - -will eventually result in widespread deterioration of
human capital, discouragement and labor-market withdrawal," the OECD said.
"The risk is strongest for youth and less-skilled workers who have been
disproportionately affected by the rise in unemployment."
The OECD said manufacturing has rebounded but in Ireland and Spain, where there
were big job losses in construction, the incidence of long-term unemployment has
risen. It also highlighted concerns about the US, noting the "unusually high
share of long-term unemployment" in the current labour market.
In March, 167,000 people were on the Irish Live
Register for a year or more.
It was strange to note that unemployment has
become a front-burner issue at the teachers' conferences, which tends to evoke a
feeling as to what planet some of these people inhabited in the past 3 years
when over 260,000 jobs were lost - - ignoring dependents, the equivalent of 3
full Croke Parks - - and of course the Government was warned not to tamper with
the slow-motion reform aspiration plan known as the Croke Park agreement.
A Dublin principal said at a conference that up
to a 1,000 teachers would be “exported like cattle” from Ireland over the
next five years.
“This conference is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. If we don’t fight this there
will be one teacher unemployed for every five in work in Ireland by 2016.”
Unemployment is grim but wanting both insider job
creation and bubble-time costs, cannot be sustained if employment is going to
increase beyond the cosy world of insiders and they don't come any bigger than
the protected professions.
The Irish Independent reported on Tuesday that banks are making it harder than
ever to get a mortgage by clamping down on the self-employed and contract
workers securing a homeloan.
Some contract workers however, remain in
The Irish Times reports today that Mr Justice John Murray met Taoiseach Enda
Kenny last Thursday for what a Government spokesman said last night was a
courtesy call following Kenny’s election as Taoiseach.
The spokesman confirmed that the tax treatment of judges’ pensions was among a
number of issues raised by the Chief Justice during the meeting. The spokesman
said that that other issues were also discussed during the meeting between the
Apparently, judges are concerned about the tax implications of last year’s
budget which put a limit on the on the tax-free pension lump sums available to
The budget limited tax relief was limited to pension funds worth up to €2.3m but
senior public officials such as judges, hospital consultants and former taoisigh
would have pensions from the State worth more than the €2.3m ceiling if they
were calculated on the same basis as those in the private sector.
In 2009, the Bord Snip report highlighted the practice of granting full
40-year pensions to judges who may only be a fraction of that time on the bench.
In another report, The Irish Times says lawyers working for the Moriarty
tribunal continued to make substantial amounts in fees in the period prior to
the publication of its report, new figures show.
Tribunal barrister Jacqueline O’Brien SC made €54,888 in fees in the period
January 24th to February 28th, the figures show. Jerry Healy SC, made €33,117
during the same period. As public sector contractors, Healy earned more than
€9.5m by the end of February since 1997, while those of O’Brien made €6.8m.
The Irish Times says the figures show that in the
period January 24th to February 28th, barrister Patrick Dillon-Malone earned
€43,197. Dillon-Malone joined the tribunal’s legal team after former lead
counsel John Coughlan SC took ill.
Barrister Marie Moriarty (no relation to the judge) earned €35,388 while her
colleague Stephen McCullough earned €28,102. Solicitor Stuart Brady earned
Mr Justice Moriarty said in a letter to the
Department of the Taoiseach that he alone was making the conclusions on the
award of the second mobile phone licence but the legal team was required for
proofreading drafts of the report, compiling documentary appendices, assisting
in the preparation of summaries, preparing draft replies to correspondence to
the tribunal, and “examining and advising the sole member [the judge] in
relation to any potential infirmities in potential findings which might be
susceptible to judicial review and other litigation.”