Saturday 1 October 2016

Cronyism is alive and well - and thriving with this Government

Published 19/01/2016 | 02:30

David Begg has bagged a plum job Photo: Damien Eagers
David Begg has bagged a plum job Photo: Damien Eagers

The news that Tánaiste Joan Burton has used a little-known clause in the new public appointment rules to personally appoint former trade union leader, David Begg, as the chairman of the Pensions Authority through bypassing the public appointments process, is further evidence that cronyism is alive and well and still widespread in Government circles - despite what we have been told to the contrary.

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If it wasn't such a serious matter it would be a joke what has happened here. Mr Begg is appointed to a plum job by the Labour Party leader in the dying days of this administration.

He even had the audacity to label the €20k salary appointment - on top of all his other income avenues - as not being a crock of gold, yet 125,000 of the workforce are solely depending on a salary less than that amount.

To add more salt to the wounds of the working public - who have contributed to paying Mr Begg's salary and other entitlements through the years - it comes at a time when a large proportion of the workforce have seen their own pension pots decimated, becoming largely worthless, with the pensions being switched from defined benefits to defined contribution.

It is ironic that he is now appointed as chairman of the pensions board. Where was he all along on this issue? In the past number of years, the workforce in general has also seen its working rights trampled on and removed - along with the imposition of increased taxes and charges on the general population that disproportionately affected those on the lower levels of income.

While all those events have been going on to the detriment of the people of this country, the union movement stayed silent and allowed it all to happen.

On seeking election five years ago, we were told - and, indeed, lectured to by Fine Gael and Labour politicians - that they would change the way that politics was done in this country. They said there would be a democratic revolution in the lifetime of this Government, but this appointment shows that cronyism is part and parcel of this administration and it is no different to what has gone on in the past with others.

This kind of continuous carry on is what turns people off politics. It shows that the Labour Party are just as good as Fine Gael at talking out of both sides of their mouths.

No doubt, in the coming few weeks there will be a flurry of other appointments by the Government for their circle of friends, thus making a further mockery of our so-called democracy - and a mockery of the vision that our 1916 leaders gave their lives for.

Christy Kelly, Templeglantine, Limerick

Slow Leo changes his targets

It appears that Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who is unable to solve the health crisis, has now changed his focus to housing. He recently stated that the image of a ghost estate in Leitrim is a reminder that Fianna Fail "cannot be trusted to manage the economy".

Leo is about as quick off the mark as Katie Price, who finally replied to a tweet from Kim Kardashian - seven years later.

Seamus McLoughlin, Keshcarrigan, Co Leitrim

The 1916 gravy train rolls on

It is not even the end of January and I'm already fed up with and embarrassed by the hawking of 1916. There are art exhibitions, book launches, TV series, theatre shows and countless trinkets for sale in souvenir shops.

Who will dare speak of 1916 by December?

Paul MacCormaic, Dublin 5

We need to pay for our water

People in Europe pay around €600 to €800 in water taxes. We only pay €160. Now that the election is coming, some parties are telling us that we don't have to pay water taxes at all.

For me, this is about political parties misleading people. Other countries have a dedicated body in charge of water, they have developed proper water infrastructures, they have, in turn, developed capabilities that allow them to export water service products to the tune of tens of billions of euros.

Someone needs to explain to the Irish people what is being done to them when they are told they don't have to pay for water.

Simon O'Connor, Castleisland, Co Kerry

Beware election promises

Politicians have election fever - and already they are promising the sun, moon and stars to get elected.

It's the same old story - they will sell any old song to the public to get votes and cut their throats shortly after getting in. We have seen it all before, and the patients are still on trolleys 15 years on after successive governments. What is the point of Fianna Fáil slating Fine Gael, when history has shown they are both incompetent?

The Green Party has emerged from the grave, but the last time we had them in government a litany of environmental taxes came out.

As I see it, Sinn Féin will have the deciding majority in the Dáil, and we could be looking at hung parliament after hung parliament as other parties try to distance themselves from the never-ending skeletons in the closet of Sinn Féin and their links with the IRA they carry around with them.

So it will be one of the most interesting and difficult elections in the history of the state.

The question is this: will the public get anything out of all the selling, other than more taxes and cut-backs on public services?

Maurice Fitzgerald, Shanbally, Co Cork

FF can still have a future

It looks like FG have done enough to get another bite at it. They've done enough, in my view, to deserve it. Judging by polls, FF have not quite been forgiven - though they are no longer banished. I believe the Soldiers of Destiny still have a lot to answer for and their atonement is, as yet, not complete.

That said, democracy needs strong opposition. If FF can prove that they are both sorry and willing to rebuild trust in their competence they can have a future.

Big 'ifs', I know, but second chances are necessary in a democracy.

M O'Brien, Dalkey, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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