Posts Tagged 'jobs for the boys'

Green rotation or Jobs for the Boys?

Is this what they meant by Green jobs?

It would appear that very few political commentators believe the Green Party’s spin that their secret deal with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern for extra ministries is based on the noble principle of rotation.

Interesting to observe the Green Party’s silence on the story revealed by TV3’s Ursula Halligan that former Junior Minister Trevor Sargent, who resigned his Ministerial post last week, had struck a secret deal (shielded from public view and Green membership) with Bertie Ahern to ensure the Greens were accommodated in Government by allowing the rotation of one of its Ministers and in-mid term the allocation of a second Junior Ministry.

The deal, according to Senator Dan Boyle, who is a Taoiseach appointee as part of the said same deal, is merely to comply with the Green Party’s principle of rotation.

However Irish Times columnist Stephen Collins had this to say:

The problem is that most people outside the Greens would regard the concept of rotating a Cabinet Minister at this stage as political madness. There is also the important fact that this deal was kept secret until now. Both the voters and the Fianna Fáil party were entitled to know when the Greens entered government in 2007 that they had this rotation agreement.

The assumption is that the easier and less destabilising decision for Cowen to make at this stage would be to give the Greens their second junior with Cuffe and deputy party leader Mary White getting promotion. This, however, will do nothing for the Greens in the eyes of the public who are likely to regard it as a cynical jobs-for-the-boys exercise.


Noel Whelan dismisses the Green’s ‘rotation’ spin:

While the view that spending too long in ministerial office can be bad for any individual politician has some merit, using it to justify a changeover after only two and a half years is ridiculous. The fact that under the pact Eamon Ryan was scheduled to remain in Cabinet for a full five years doesn’t sit well with this supposed principle.

If implemented the pact would have meant that at some point over the life of the Government all six of the party’s TDs would have held office.  This and the fact that the pact was kept secret suggest baser motives.


Brian Cowen, Political Culture & Loyalty v Respect

So is John McGuinness telling it like it is?  Uncomfortable as it may be for some,  his arguments expose  the ‘groupthink’  mentality that exists in most organisations.    Brian Cowen may be unlucky,  he may be stubborn,  he may even be incompetent – I don’t know – but to accuse him of being tribal is to accuse him of being human, being Irish even.

In most organisations throughout the country,  CEOs, football managers, political leaders pick their teams and while talent should be top of the agenda – loyalty to the captain and hard work will more than not be rewarded over the talented outspoken one.   In fact, the one who tells it like it is rarely gets rewarded.  Eventually they may do so,  but it is usually based on pacification and the ‘squeeky wheel always gets oiled’  approach rather than any real desire for  a change of strategy or outlook.

The culture of the political system in Ireland is a star culture – one where TDs are independent republics and where the crucial rules of survival are ‘win thy seat’ and ‘defend  thy seat’ at any cost.  It has also become a highly paid job with lavish expenses with considerable administrative and research back-up.  Added to this is the ‘Bertie Ahern legacy’ of five year Dáil terms,  the culture of keeping the team on message through appointments to Junior Ministries,  Chair of Dáil Committees,  the overall jobs for the boys culture and you can see how rapidly politicians across the political divide have lost touch with their electorate.   Once elected to office, Ministers set about building their teams,  often hiring  party members and family to lucrative positions while appointing political party members and supporters to State Boards and authorities.  All of this is done behind closed doors,  there is no transparency despite repeated calls from outside the walls of Leinster House for reform.    It also imbues a culture of fear – be loyal at all costs or you forfeit your right to reward and a promising career.

Becoming a TD is a lucrative business these days.  You can forget all that guff about TDs giving up the chance to earn lucrative salaries in the private sector – the majority wouldn’t pass the test.    This is a political system of power, of entering politics for monetary gain.  It is not a political system based on achievement and legacy.

As Professor Ray Kinsella pointed out in the Irish Times recently,   “Political institutions and the system of governance are semi-detached from the pulse-beat of individuals who have lost their jobs, businesses teetering on the brink of failure, and families that are crushed by the circumstances in which they have suddenly found themselves.”

He goes on:  “They are still dominated by an apprenticeship system, which favours those who have served their time over those who can contribute most to addressing the problems now confronting the country.”

No doubt Brian Cowen, Mary Coughlan, Government spin doctors and the ‘loyal’ band of backbenchers eager to please (for now)  will be busily engaged in briefing columnists and a select band of embedded journalists to spread doubt about John McGuinness and what they will insist is really just his very public ‘throwing of his toys out of the pram’.

Brian Cowen has made it abundently clear that he values loyalty over talent and yet John McGuinness has challenged  our whole perception of the culture of groupthink and of loyalty.  His premise is that the overused tag of loyalty needs to be replaced with respect.  Of course, respect infers equity and balance.    Respect means that a true friend will tell you if you have got it wrong or made a mistake rather than pledge blind allegiance to a sinking ship.

And finally this is what economist Dan O’Brien observed in the Irish Times on 20 March 2009:  “To set out the inadequacies of Mary Coughlan as Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment would be inappropriate and unhelpful. It suffices to say that at a time of national emergency, the patently and grossly unable, by their mere presence, should not be allowed to obstruct efforts to prevent outright meltdown.” 


June 2017
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