Only selfless leadership can rescue Ireland from the economic quicksand
Published 01/06/2010 | 05:00
Irish farm leaders last week unveiled a memorial to Robert Anderson, an organising genius who implemented the co-op ideals of Horace Plunkett way back at the turn of the last century.
Born in Buttevant, Co Cork, in 1860, of Scottish Protestant ancestry, Anderson was Secretary of IAOS (now ICOS) for its first 30 years (1894-1924). He was appointed to the board of IAWS from 1905, and when IAWS was in serious financial trouble in 1922, he took over as managing director.
In turning around the fortunes of IAWS, Anderson implemented a 10pc wage cut for the staff and took a 50pc salary cut himself.
Surely that's the kind of leadership needed to rescue the stricken Irish economy?
With hindsight, the absence of bank regulation and the 2002 public service benchmarking deal were the two biggest factors in Ireland's economic collapse. At a time of illusory financial wellbeing, public and civil servants were awarded packages now not affordable.
In the benchmarking agreement the biggest gains were made by top civil servants, while politicians were granted a new raft of perks, details of which are now being drip-fed to the public in revelations of pension arrangements etc.
Reversing the public service benchmarking agreement is an essential step for national recovery. This will cause severe pain, but economic recovery will not happen without pain.
Farmers can empathise with the pain of those whose incomes are being slashed. Last year the average farm income fell 29pc in money terms but, because of a drop in the cost of living, this was reduced to 26pc in real terms.