Saturday, November 24, 2007

I'm Glad Ireland Is Not In Africa. (Or Am I?)

I am, kind of, glad that Ireland is not in Africa.
If it was, there would have been a coup a long, long time ago.
Well, all the ingredients are there.
We have a prime minister who is paying himself and his cronies more than just about any other leader in the world. And he’s doing it with public money, money taken off the people in taxes.
In addition to that, he has taken ‘loans’ from friends. These ‘loans’ weren’t ‘loans’ at all until it was discovered that he had received them. Up to that point, not a cent had been paid back.
He then lies, or at least doesn't tell the truth, to a tribunal of investigatioin.
And he won't explain what it was necessary for him to abandon the banking system and hide money in a safe while he was going through his separation.
I can only presume, despite his record, that he declared the money in the safe as part of his assets when he was required to do so.
Furthermore, he managed to wangle himself a bank loan of £19,000 without formally applying for it and without having to pay anything back for 18 months. It’s clear, he wouldn’t have got the loan if he had not been Finance minister at the time. And using your position for personal gain is more or less the definition of corruption.

If he could do the job, you might turn a blind eye.
But look at the country.
The health service is an unmitigated disaster, kept afloat only by the incredible and largely unrewarded efforts of the frontline workers.
It is top heavy with overpaid administrators who couldn’t run the proverbial in the brewery.
Our road network is still in an horrendous state. For years, little bits of motorway and dual carriageway were built here and there. This was a) to facilitate local political and electoral need and b) to avoid the legal requirement to open such schemes up to tender from construction companies in Europe.
Currently, only two cities on the island of Ireland are linked by motorway/dual carriageway. And Belfast and Dublin are linked for ideological reasons, not infrastructural.
When roads are built, they’re built badly and with little concern for history, culture, heritage or archaeology.
The M50 is, quite simply, a joke and it will always be a joke. And it will become an even more ridiculous joke when the National Roads Authority - possibly the most inept body in the world - is given control of the Westlink toll bridge.
The National Roads Authority. That’s the body that was charged with building roads to bypass towns and villages and then refused to allow services along the new roads telling people they could go into the towns and villages.
It is the body charged with signposting Ireland. Honestly. Someone is actually in charge of that.
It is the body which believed a bramble hedge was sufficient barrier in the central median of a motorway.
It’s another joke.
The Department of Education can’t build sufficient schools.
The Department of Sport is paying for the building of Lansdowne Road, a stadium too small by half, having funked building a national stadium.
It is also at least partially responsible for the pay-for-pay debacle in t he GAA.
The Minister for Social Welfare can keep a straight face telling us that €300 a week is sufficient for pensioners, when his pay rise alone is almost twice that.
The Minister for Enterprise is watching jobs vanish.
The Minister for the Gaeltacht has created division in Dingle where there was none.
The Minister for Justice is presiding over a brutal gang war, a police service corrupt in parts and a system that sees fewer gardai on the streets now than there were in the sixties.
As for the ‘Green” Party ministers, it seems there is a direct relationship between the amount of money they’re paid and the abandonment of their principles.
And as for the ‘independents’ they have, largely, been bought.
The years of prosperity are over, and the only ones with anything to show at the end of it all, are politicians who received more than twenty pay rises, and the construction industry.
It’s an outrage. It’s a scandal. It’s a tragedy.
We still have the desperately poor. We still have in sufficient places for the intellectually disabled. We have virtually no facilities for those who wish to try and beat their addiction to drugs.
We have nothing.
So maybe, at the end of it all, it’s a pity we’re not in Africa.


Mark said...

Good man Paddy, you are one of the few journalists out there not afraid to tell it like it is.

Sharon said...

Well said Paddy, it's a shame there are too few like you left in this country to have the courage to stand up and tell it like it is.

I'd happily join a coup but unfortunately this country has a disease called 'apathy' that has gripped the majority of people living on this Island and as usual,it would be left to a small few to actually do something!