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Actions speak louder than words

The Government's first annual report on the implementation of the programme for government, which was published yesterday, represents a missed opportunity. Instead of a rigorous analysis of the performance of individual departments, and of the Government as a whole, we were treated to the sort of self-congratulatory waffle that we thought had vanished along with the Ahern era.

Those of our readers with long memories will recall the "annual reports" published by the previous Fianna Fail-led governments in which everybody and everything seemed to be hunky dory. Unfortunately yesterday's document was cut from similar cloth.

It contains nothing that could be interpreted as criticism of any minister or department. Neither is it possible to compare the relative performances of different departments. The listing of the establishment of an implementation group for universal health insurance in the section on the Department of Health as an "achievement" was typical. Mere activity is being confused with achievement.

The timing may have been coincidental but the "annual report" was published on the same day as thousands queued at the Silver Springs in Cork seeking to leave the country, while hundreds more were being turned away from the jobs exhibition. Needless to say, they weren't interested in such ministerial back-slapping.

Instead of publishing such vacuous documents that fool absolutely no-one the government would be much better advised to just get on with the job and tell us when they have actually done something. Action speaks louder, much louder, than mere words.