Eddie Molloy: 'Broadband plan reeks of 'politics and party above policy' mistakes'
The letter sent by Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to his counterpart in the Department of...
The letter sent by Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, to his counterpart in the Department of...
Whenever we wake up to shocking headlines like the burning of Notre-Dame Cathedral, among...
The launch of the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) is a welcome initiative by the Central Bank to...
Glowing tributes have been paid to Maurice McCabe following his vindication by Mr Justice Peter Charleton. We've heard much praise for his...
All judges are concerned to establish the truth in the cases that come before them, but truth, and more so its polar opposite, lying, is so troubling...
When Maurice McCabe and John Wilson began to blow the whistle on the rampant scrubbing of penalty points and more serious failings in An Garda Síochána, a flood of people came forward with claims of misbehaviour ranging from bullying to failures to properly investigate murders. A few of these cases were aired in the media with complainants telling of their frustration in securing a fair response...
It is widely reported that Health Minister Simon Harris and members of the Fine Gael parliamentary party have declared war on HSE managers, threatening to remove those who do not measure up. While conceding that more money is needed, they contend that the root of the problem is managerial incompetence.
In a book just published, entitled 'Austerity and Recovery in Ireland: Europe's Poster Child and the Great Recovery', the authors remind us that 70pc of our national debt, which we are now paying €7bn a year to service, was caused not by the demon banks but by ourselves adopting a lifestyle that was never sustainable.
About 18 years ago, when I was invited to engage with the Department of Health, I requested copies of relevant documents that I should read in advance of meeting with officials. A few days later, two men in a van arrived at my door with two large plastic crates containing over a hundred reports, plans and reviews. Since then, successive health ministers have added a few hundred more to the pile and this week yet another review of A&E overcrowding is promised.
In a radio programme to honour Ken Whitaker on his 100th birthday, broadcaster John Bowman played an excerpt from an interview recorded around the year 2000 in which the esteemed public servant set out a defining mark of a functioning democracy and good government.
It looks like we are in for the proverbial 'winter of discontent', with young and old walking home in the rain and disruption to other vital public services, unless the growing demand from trade...
When I contacted travel writer and consultant Eoghan Corry to check if I had heard him correctly on radio saying that there were one million visits from Ireland to Spain in the past year, he said:...
About 15 years ago, I spent a week in a country house hotel, co-facilitating a strategic planning process with the 35 Catholic bishops serving in...
Just before last Christmas, the CEO of the HSE, Tony O'Brien, said "there is no shared vision of the health service" and some days later, the...
In 1977, my mother's friend - let's call her Mrs Malone - had accumulated the £156 that she would need shortly to pay her annual housing rates.
Fine words have been exchanged in the Dáil in recent days about the need to address deficiencies in the mental health services.
Last Thursday night on RTÉ's 'Prime Time' programme, Fianna Fáil TD John Lahart said that the water charges shambles in the Dáil earlier that day was "no longer about water, it is now about trust. Fianna Fáil is a party that keeps its promises and Fine Gael doesn't". In the same interview, having sought to claim the high moral ground, Mr Lahart then denied point blank that Fianna Fáil had...
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan concedes that massive, country-wide inflation of drink-driving test numbers and the wrongful conviction of 14,700 people for motoring offences revealed "individual and collective ethical failure" in An Garda Siochana.
Fianna Fáil is at it again. It bought the election of 1977 by promising to eliminate household rates and car tax. Its infamous decentralisation programme, which involved the appropriation and vandalisation of the civil service and State agencies, ensured the party romped home in the local elections of 2003. For a decade up to the crash of 2007-8, in order to secure the votes of...
The recent announcement of a new performance management and accountability system for HSE managers is designed to reassure the public that the HSE and Health Minister Simon Harris are determined to deal with recurring, serious failings in our hospitals and community social services.
Ten years ago when people were dying unnecessarily because of deficiencies in our cancer services, Professor Tom Keane, a Canadian expert, was hired by the government to improve the situation. The nub of his advice was to reduce the number of hospitals delivering cancer services from around 30 to eight specialist units. This was not a money-saving exercise but a transformation that would...
As president of Siptu, Jack O'Connor, on behalf of his members, has threatened the Government that unless a decision is made within a week to begin talks by February to accelerate "pay restoration" for public servants, he will ballot his members on strike action.
In this paper recently, Brendan Howlin, leader of the Labour Party, proposed, as a way to resolve the current industrial relations difficulties, "a new deal that could be a longer-term agreement that delivers full pay restoration for all public servants - giving everyone a clear roadmap to get back to where they were before the crisis".
'Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world' - WB Yeats
In practically every case of institutional scandal and failure over the past decade, subsequent inquiries have concluded that, whatever else was wrong, ultimately a debased culture was the root cause.
The country was badly served when Irish Water was set up in such a ham-fisted way but it would be even more badly served if it were now to be "abolished", as Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and others would have it. If ever there was a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, abolition of Irish Water would be it.
Just days away from the General Election, speculation about the outcome is now rife. Paddy Power is offering odds on winners and losers and on which combinations will coalesce to form a government.
In early 2014, as she stood down after seven-and-a-half years as head of Hiqa, the health service watchdog, Dr Tracey Cooper's parting shot was: "We have not yet cracked accountability. Whenever something goes wrong, nothing happens."
Whatever about our aspirations to be the best little country in the world in which to do business, we could certainly win prizes for being best little nation in the world for remembering, if the programme of 1916 commemorations just started is anything to go by.
Prior to the last general election, such had been the catastrophic failure of our political system, the civil service and vital State institutions, every party manifesto promised radical political and administrative reform.
Every time a skeleton (sometimes literally) falls out of the Sinn Féin-IRA cupboard and they are challenged to reveal what they know about a particular murder, rape, robbery, or smuggling racket, their first lines of defence are to flatly deny any involvement by their members; to ridicule the suggestion that they have a case to answer; or to attribute base political motives to those...
Given that they don't dispute the educational merits of the proposed reforms of the Junior Cert programme, there is something profoundly troubling about some teachers' continuing refusal to fully embrace the reforms, specifically on the grounds that assessing their own students for exam purposes could result in questions being raised about their professional integrity.
In April 2008, just as the banks were collapsing and the public finances imploding with "catastrophic consequences for many thousands of our citizens" as the Taoiseach has expressed it, the opening lines of the OECD's Review of the Irish Public Service were singing the praises of our public service for the "central role it has played in Ireland's economic success, one that many OECD countries...
In January 2014, a consultation paper on civil service accountability, issued by officials in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform(DPER), posed a truly fundamental question for their fellow civil servants: "How far should public servants rely on their professionalism and sense of personal morality and how far should they simply follow instructions from their political masters?"
The Government has been rightly castigated for its handling of Irish Water, from the blundering start-up overseen by Phil Hogan, through the list of misconceived ruses to redeem the situation, all of which have boomeranged, right up to the latest revelation that a separate data base will be needed to manage the payment of the absurd €100 "conservation grant", and confusion over who should get it.
I once read an article entitled: 'Knee-Deep in the Big Muddy: Escalating Commitment to a Chosen Course of Action', which described how, like a desperate gambler hoping against hope to get his money back on the last race and to save face, people often compound their initial risky miscalculation by trying one more big bet to redeem the situation. But the Irish Water debacle beats them all
In sharp contrast with their efforts to forestall publication of the Health Information and Quality Authority report on Portlaoise hospital, the Health Service Executive recently published for all to see the results of a staff survey, entitled 'Have Your Say'.
I recently visited an Irish-owned company that makes high spec products for indigenous and overseas food producers. The company employs 200 in what would otherwise be a rural unemployment blackspot. Turnover is €170m. My visit's purpose was to explore how a systematic approach to innovation could drive a doubling of this figure.
Trust, once broken, takes time to restore and until then a climate of suspicion prevails. Nothing is taken at face value and normal assurances of the other's 'bona fides' are insufficient to satisfy one's doubts.
A new term has entered the lexicon of industrial relations, "pay restoration talks". First coined by Jack O'Connor, I believe, repeated by other trade union officials and now being adopted by some politicians, the concept is loaded with a sense of entitlement to the first fruits of economic recovery.
The duplicity of Sinn Féin's responses to allegations of child sex abuse and kangaroo courts which, up to 2002 at least, carried the menace of a bullet in the head, has led many commentators to suggest that the party is unfit to enter government.
The heated exchanges between the HSE and the Health Information and Equality Authority (Hiqa) regarding the latter's report on the pattern of infant deaths in Portlaoise Hospital highlight a matter of the utmost importance - the accountability of senior managers when things go wrong.
On its first day in office the present government unveiled an innovation that has paid rich dividends, namely the creation of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER).
When Minister Alan Kellly recently launched Irish Water's 25-year development plan, he noted that "this is the first time we have ever had a long-term plan for water in this country".
Last year's ham-fisted attempt to appoint John McNulty to the Board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) brought to a head long-standing public disapproval of the political cronyism that all parties have casually practised for generations.
Jack O'Connor of Siptu continues to advocate holding a referendum to ensure that our water services are never privatised. I agree with him.
In his Introduction to the Draft National Risk Assessment 2014, issued for discussion by his department earlier this year, the Taoiseach set out the rationale for, and urgency, of such an initiative: "One of the priorities for our country and our people is to ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the past . . . We must identify the risks that Ireland faces and therefore ensure appropriate prevention . . . Never again should dissenting voices be silenced when warning of risks up ahead . . . We must work to ensure Ireland's terrible reversals of fortune . . . never recur."
The Government is in a deep hole over Irish Water - so what can be done to redeem the situation?
The furore surrounding the McNulty affair has focused on the shameless favouritism involved in appointing people of questionable qualifications to the boards of state institutions because of their political connections.
The latest enquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway, concluded that, of the 30 staff involved in her care, nine had a case to answer, and they were subjected to disciplinary sanctions. It had already been reported that there were 13 "missed opportunities" to intervene to prevent the unfolding tragedy.
Over the new year holiday three government ministers spoke of the need to improve performance management in the civil service. This came against the backdrop of a recent report which showed that less than 1pc of assessments in 2012 placed staff in the categories "unacceptable" and "needs improvement".
ON the plane to Italy recently for a short break, I finished reading Tony Flannery's harrowing account of how the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) tried to silence him and ultimately barred him from functioning as a priest.
LISTENING to the 55 papers presented at the recent MacGill Summer School was like trying to drink from a fire hydrant. Such were the breadth and quality of the presentations it was difficult to take it all in at the time. On reflection, however, a number of important themes are discernible running through the week's discourse.
CANON 1398 states that a woman who procures an abortion is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church along with all conspirators, such as the nurses and doctors who assist her. Canon lawyers disagree on whether legislators who enable abortion should also be excommunicated. The Irish bishops are similarly divided, with some seemingly happy to leave the threat of excommunication hanging over the heads of politicians.
My wife and I once went to view "a fine period residence in need of modernising" in Co Wicklow and, as the owner escorted us around and I began to ask questions like, "is this staircase sound?" or "what is that smell?", he would ignore each question and with a sweep of his hand usher us to the nearest window where he would exclaim: "Behold the view!"