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A nightmare on Merrion Street

I heard Brian Cowen say: "I want to start by apologising to the people of Ireland for the many failures of my Government over the past 15 months.

"My party's over-involvement with the building industry caused us to deliberately prevent our financial regulator properly controlling the banking industry.

"The builders that have funded my party for many years could only drive profits higher if ordinary people over- borrowed.

"I accept the devastating effect this negligence has on all of you, especially young people, once again shamefully driven from our shores.

"I also understand that the culture of excessive political control we operate over our public servants makes ministers not only responsible for the State's inability to respond to the needs of the people after the recent floods and the crisis brought on by the current weather phenomenon, but makes the cowardly attempts to blame lower-level officials all the more disgraceful.

"Nothing I can say will make amends for our many failures, but for the next few days, my ministers and I intend to do nothing else but physically assist local authority workers with gritting the pavements in our respective constituencies so that some normality can return to people's lives.

"When the weather improves, I will call an election to allow you to pass full judgment on me and my ministers."

And that's when I woke up.

The nightmare that is this Government is surely beyond what decent people should be expected to take. The only time it appears organised is when it is stringing together stories and excuses for its ineptitude.

If the Government was as efficient at delivering an administrative infrastructure that allowed state employees to innovate around the problems they encounter, as it is at blaming the public servants it stifles and sits on, then we could have the best country in the world.

Declan Doyle

Irish Independent