Sunday 24 September 2017

Daragh McDowell: It's a case of think before you quango

Wholesale abolition of these many and varied organisations will not solve anything, writes Daragh McDowell

QUANGOS have gotten a pretty bad reputation over the past few years, and for good reason.

Plum positions on the boards of many semi-state bodies were a critical part of the system of patronage and clientilism that underpinned the hegemony of Fianna Fail and other local political dynasties. Both here and in the UK, quangos have become the ultimate symbol of government waste and excess, and electoral pledges to abolish them en masse have become as inevitable as their continued multiplication under governments of all stripes.

The first problem is that quangos, or quasi-non-governmental organisations, are not, in and of themselves, a bad idea. Any civil service needs to give its members extraordinary protection against dismissal to avoid politicisation. This lends itself to obvious abuse -- consider this extract from a recent equality tribunal finding:

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