Monday 27 March 2017

Time for a ministerial shake-up

We need to act like France, which made radical changes to start again with a blank slate

MAKING CHANGES: The end of smoking in public places didn’t come about because of a change in culture, it was down to legislation; and a change in political culture won’t come about by magic either,
MAKING CHANGES: The end of smoking in public places didn’t come about because of a change in culture, it was down to legislation; and a change in political culture won’t come about by magic either,
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Alan Shatter started and ended last week in possession of a seal of ministerial office. The same cannot be said for many of his erstwhile counterparts in France. There, half of the cabinet was either summarily fired or reshuffled out of ministries over the past seven days. Why are there so few resignations and sackings in Irish public life compared with peer countries, why are reshuffles less common and more limited when they do happen, and can anything be done to make Ireland more normal in this regard?

The rarity of high-level resignations and sackings has long been remarked upon despairingly by those with an interest in improving our quality of governance. "We don't have a culture of accountability", is the common lament of those who wonder – for instance, how Shatter can get away with police-state tactics of using garda-obtained information against a political opponent during a television debate or how James Reilly can remain as Health Minister after being caught out so blatantly favouring his own constituency in the allocation of primary care centres.

The lamenters will very frequently follow up their observation about the lack of accountability with a call along the lines of "we need to change our political culture", as if positive change is going to come about by magic.

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