Thursday 22 June 2017

First week in the asylum: I lost my licence, not my drive

New Minister for Transport Shane Ross adapts to life with mandarins, quangos and the number 44 bus

LONG ROAD AHEAD: Commuters walk the Luas line to Dublin city centre amid strike action. Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency
LONG ROAD AHEAD: Commuters walk the Luas line to Dublin city centre amid strike action. Photo: Laura Hutton/Collins Photo Agency

Shane Ross

Good grief, these public servants work round the clock. My mobile was buzzing last Sunday morning as the mandarins tried to contact their errant minister. I had been appointed the previous Friday and had gone AWOL on the Saturday. The wheels of the Transport department were working 24/7. The permanent Government wanted to deliver some of the department's dreaded "documents".

They did. The mandarins always get their man. By midday a delightful mandarin had me cornered. Buried in paperwork in Enniskerry's Powerscourt Arms I knew the game was up. My first working day as Minister for Transport was on the Sabbath. Slave drivers, these public servants. Or at least some of them. By midnight, I was becoming familiar with an encyclopedia of acronyms and a host of state agencies, the outfits I have always called "quangos".

And I always will. But even if my new department is rich in quaking quangos, it is important to see how they work. So on Monday morning, I abandoned my banger for a service and took to the buses. I bought my Leap Card and took the number 44 from Enniskerry into Dublin's Earlsfort Terrace.

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