Saturday 25 October 2014

Reprimand for German envoy over his 'coarse' Irish speech

Published 17/09/2007 | 00:00

THE German Embassy in Ireland has moved to defuse a diplomatic row after the German Ambassador described Ireland as 'coarse' and criticised our public service system.

Christian Pauls was given a firm diplomatic reprimand over the remarks which "talked down" Ireland to an 80-strong group of potential investors. He was given the verbal rap on the knuckles by the Department of Foreign Affairs' Secretary General, Dermot Gallagher, on the explicit instructions of Minister Dermot Ahern.

He was told bluntly last Thursday morning that his remarks at a function in Clontarf Castle in Dublin to visiting German industrialists were "inaccurate, misinformed and inappropriate at a public forum".

It is understood that he insisted in the telephone conversation that the central theme of his speech was that Ireland had not gained its current economic status merely because of financial aid from Brussels.

Mr Pauls made a series of remarks which the department felt could discourage investment here. Government sources said that the ambassador was perfectly entitled to draw up a report on the economic situation here, This would be in keeping with his role as an ambassador, but in this instance he had strayed beyond recognised limits. a spokesperson for the embassy, referring to an article in the Sunday Independent which highlighted the incident, said matters might have been exaggerated.

"We always like to make jokes. We like that the Irish built wealth. But I have no hard copy of what he said

"Maybe he was being ironic or something like that . . . but not in a mood for insulting the Irish people. I will ask him tomorrow.

"If you felt insulted that's not the right reaction," added the spokesperson.

In his 15-minute speech the ambassador said:

  • Ireland was a "coarse place".
  • Junior ministers here earned more than the German Chancellor.
  • Some 20pc of the population were public servants.
  • Our "chaotic" hospital waiting lists would not be tolerated anywhere else.
  • Wage demands were too high.
  • Our immigration policy was wrong and we had learned nothing from Germany or the Nordic countries.

He also cited the doctors' rejection of €200,000 a year posts on the basis that this sum was "Mickey Mouse" money and referred to the former dominant position of the Catholic Church within the country.

His listeners, mainly members of the German Federation of Buying and Marketing groups, representing medium-sized businesses, loved his delivery.

One Irish man in the audience was Gay Mitchell MEP who said that if he had made the comments in the Dail he would have been accused of party political partisanship of a totally imbalanced nature.

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