Saturday 3 December 2016

Ireland needs visionaries, and fast

Radical solutions won't come from a political system wedded to the status quo, writes Brendan O'Connor

Published 28/02/2010 | 05:00

The most startling aspect of the putative Cabinet shuffle is that no one -- including, you suspect, the people directly involved -- believes in any way, shape or form that it will help solve this country's problems. But God bless them, it is the only way they know how to respond to anything. To do something within their narrow little range of political manoeuvres, and to do it three years too late

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There's an old management maxim that says, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." In other words, when we solve problems we often don't look at the problem and try and come up with an apt solution. Instead, we look at the tools we have at our disposal and define the problem in such a way that our tools fit. So even if the problem we have right now in Ireland is with a screw, the Government, because it doesn't have a screwdriver, is just going to take its hammer and bang away. And then we will all wonder why the wall falls down.

It was all exemplified in Mary Coughlan's performance on Prime Time the other night. When confronted with the issue of unemployment, she waffled on about the money spent on training and other nonsense. Her basic mission was not to say something inspiring or to reveal any creativity or imagination or grand plan; it was to maintain that she and her colleagues were not doing a bad job. At most, she seemed willing to consider how the existing civil service institutions that have been there for decades could possibly be looked at to deal with the scourge of unemployment.

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