Wednesday 20 November 2019

We like the idea of being spied on, claims FG's Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes. Photo: Tom Burke
Brian Hayes. Photo: Tom Burke
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A Government minister has controversially claimed that people here "like the idea of surveillance" from outside agencies, including the EU.

Minister of State Brian Hayes said that in his view, Irish people "like a plan" and "like the idea of surveillance".

"There was actually grudging support in the country for the troika," Mr Hayes said.

The comments appear to contradict the previous government line that stressed its drive to "wave goodbye to the troika".

He was speaking at a conference in Dublin yesterday.

The "Post-Troika – What Next For Ireland" event at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin was organised by the European Commission's Irish office and Dublin Chamber of Commerce.

Speakers included Catherine Day, the Irish-born secretary general of the European Commission, and economists John McCarthy of the Department of Finance, John McHale of the Fiscal Advisory Council and Frances Ruane of the ESRI.

Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly, ICTU general secretary David Begg and IBEC's Danny McCoy also spoke.

The focus of the event was to examine policies for Ireland after the ending of the EU IMF bailout.

There was a focus at the event on the implications for Ireland of beefed-up European fiscal rules, including the so-called European semester, which involves greater European scrutiny of national budgets.

The new rules mean that even after the bailout Ireland will continue to be subject to outside oversight of Budgets into the future.

The new regime also includes more domestic scrutiny – including from the Fiscal Advisory Council, which is charged with reviewing government policy to see that it complies with longer-term strategic goals.

It represents a big change and a challenge from the old-style, closed, Budget system, Mr Hayes said.

He said the experience of the crash showed the need to hear the views of "contrary people".

"We are not good in my view, as a political system, at taking criticism," he noted.

John McHale, who heads up the Fiscal Advisory Council, said that in his view the fiscal approach taken in the wake of the crash was the correct one.

There were fears the policies would hurt the economy too much, he noted, but said that while risks remained, few would have predicted the extent of recovery since 2011.

Irish Independent

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