THESE days, behind every set of newsmaking initials -- AIB, BOI, FAS, NAMA and the DDDA for example -- stand lots and lots of men.
Pinstriped bank executives who gave away the shop and who were handed their hats and huge bye-bye pay-offs; high-rolling FAS bigwigs making like Donald Trump on the taxpayers' dime; globe-trotting Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) chiefs (and oh look, Anglo Irish Bank's former overlord Seanie FitzPatrick pops up in that story too); swaggering property supremos who spent like drunken sailors on shore-leave and are now being shanghaied into NAMA; intractable trade union chiefs currently banging the war drums of industrial strife.
They are all, almost to a man, men. In fact, in among the usual well-fed suspects, one of the few women whose name frequently pops up in relation to these dispiriting tales of profligacy, is that of the redoubtable Professor Niamh Brennan, who was appointed chairman of the DDDA and is busily kicking ass in that dreadful imbroglio.
No wonder there isn't an International Men's Day -- though on the depressing evidence of the above-mentioned carry-on, one could reasonably assume that every day was Men's Day in the old boys' club of Ireland Inc.
However, there is an International Women's Day, and yesterday over 300 mainly native daughters (and the odd son) held the 10th annual lunch, sponsored by L'Oreal, to celebrate the occasion and also to raise funds for the excellent Tallaght-based community development organisation An Cosan.
There was a trio of speakers at the lunch in Dublin's Four Seasons Hotel -- Social Welfare Minister Mary Hanafin, writer Marie Heaney and Dublin woman Siobhan Carroll, who has carved herself a new life through An Cosan.
Arriving for the lunch, Ms Hanafin diplomatically declined the chance to ponder aloud at the preponderance of men on the boards of banks, semi-state bodies and the like.
Instead, the former 'Minister for Happiness' preferred to accentuate the positive. "It's badly lacking because of the lack of family-friendly policies. But any of the better smarter companies are actually . . . succeeding in keeping more women," she said.
And despite all the doom and gloom, the mood at the lunch was buoyant.
There was a bit of craic about. Broadcaster and all-round superwoman Miriam O'Callaghan introduced the minister. "At the 'Prime Time' meeting, my first question is: 'What women are going to be in my studio this week?'" Miriam explained: "I divide the ministers into those I feel very happy to beat up, and those I actually feel guilty about beating up. Mary Hanafin definitely falls into the category of minister that I like," she added.
Mary was quite obviously relieved to hear it.
"I'm amused to hear Miriam talk about her opening question is that what women might be in studio this week. My opening question on a Monday morning is: 'How can I avoid being in Miriam's studio?'" she laughingly confessed.
She paid tribute to the work done by the women in An Cosan. "They are involved in education courses and communication and childcare and bettering themselves and their children, and they are making a big contribution".
But she also admitted: "There are things that we haven't got right . . . yet" -- pointing to the issue of lone parents. "Despite the best of intentions and significant investment, you still have a situation where children of lone partners are four times more likely to be in poverty than any other family," she said.
And when it comes to family-friendly workplaces, Leinster House is most definitely not on Mary's list. "In politics, we've gone backwards," she admitted. "A number of years ago we made huge progress in getting women elected (but only) 13pc of the Dail is made up of women."
Mary, however, is a great woman for finding a bright side, and so was happy to point out that "even though women are only 13pc of the Dail, we make up 20pc of the Cabinet and control 75pc of the budget", she said, as the room cheered.
So there you have it, Taoiseach. Women can do this country-saving stuff as easy as falling off a log. As Ginger Rogers remarked: "I did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels."
So all you have to do, Brian, is hand over the remaining 25pc of the budget to the women, and the job's oxo.