The lasting privilege of our public service
FOUR days before the general election, the Civil Service Arbitration Board held a hearing into an issue that few people outside the public service knew existed, the two annual "privilege days" for higher officials.
This perk was originally dreamed up before independence, to mark Empire Day and the British monarch's birthday. Should it be retained, or incorporated into the officials' annual leave, or simply abolished?
The election transformed the political scene. Fianna Fail suffered a devastating defeat, and the new Fine Gael-Labour Government took office pledging to do all in its power to reduce the massive burden of public debt and specifically to negotiate easier terms for the EU-IMF bailout. It never expected to find the going easy.