Thursday, 8 October 2009


The current National mood !
There is a preoccupation at the moment with financial accountability in the body politic in the light of John O’Donoghue’s resignation as Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of the House). Is it just me or does anyone else out there feel there is a hint of hypocrisy in the attitude of the nation towards the lavish expenditure of our senior legislators. To my knowledge we have never been particularly noted for our rectitude and transparency when it comes to handling money, either in household budgeting or in the wider business world. When times were good (it seems such a long time ago) we spent money like water and so what if most of it was borrowed or advanced courtesy of the nice people at Visa and MasterCard ! Now that the credit well has truly dried up a new Puritanism in matters of finance has engulfed the once spendthrift Irish and not only are we counting the cents for ourselves but we are intent on noting every coin earned and spent by anyone on the island. Before, we tolerated a certain latitude in expenses etc., by our politicians and high earners as there was lots of lolly sloshing about and we weren’t that concerned with words like ‘Value’ or ‘Accountability’. Now though not a solitary coin jangles in the greasy till or a note unruffles from a clinched fist without a committee of enquiry being formed to ascertain its origin, destination and purpose. Too little too late methinks, these are the actions of desperation by a public sector (of which I am one) fearful of a 5% pay cut, a private sector envious of public sector ‘Rolls Royce pensions’ (Ha !) and a genuinely nervous social welfare section waiting for cuts to their basic payments. Let’s be honest and admit that we are all culpable of a nod and wink culture when it comes to our relationship with money and it’s all too easy in these straitened times to scapegoat politicians, bankers, and speculators for doing exactly what we might have done if we thought we’d have got away with it. It seems to me that never has the old maxim that we get the politicians we deserve been so true and never in our recent history have so many living in the proverbial glasshouse been so eager to throw stones.

Gerard O'Shea

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