Last evening, at the witching hour, I gazed into my crystal ball and uttered the enchanted words, known only to few: “Ministers’ pensions, ministers’ pensions.”
Straight away the mist cleared and I could see forward to the year 2040. In Dáil Éireann there were 20 departments, each with a senior minister and five junior ministers, all of whom were super juniors with relevant salaries. In addition there were 20 special advisers per department, making 400 in total. In fairness one small effort was made to ease the burden on the taxpayer. The Ceann Comhairle was a robot. No protest from the opposition? Why? My question was answered when the leader of one of the opposition parties put his arm round his deputy leader and whispered: “Some day all this could be ours.” Standing unnoticed in the corner of the chamber was a crucifix but, instead of the usual “INRI” it read “TAXPAYER”.
Idea of super juniors violates the spirit of the Constitution
Article 28 of the Constitution states that “the government shall consist of not less than seven and not more than 15 members who shall be appointed by the President in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution”. The creation of super-junior ministers, with a right to sit at cabinet but not to vote, is a way of creating extra higher-status junior ministerial positions without exceeding the constitutional ceiling of 15 members of government. The position of super-junior was first created for Pat Rabbitte, then a Democratic Left deputy, in the 1994 three-party Rainbow government.
It was referred to sardonically at the time as the high-chair at cabinet, created specifically for Mr Rabbitte, so that Proinsias De Rossa, the leader of DL, would not be its sole representative at the table of government.
The practice has now grown to three high-chairs at cabinet – one for each of the parties in the latest three-party coalition.
In my view the whole business of the super juniors violates the spirit of Article 28 of the Constitution and, far from being expanded (at this time of unprecedented uncertainty for the country), should instead be abolished.
Hollywood, Co Wicklow
We’ve had more success than the UK in handling Covid-19
In his letter of July 27, Robert Sullivan heaps praise on the British prime minister for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the UK but criticises the former Taoiseach of this country for being ‘stark’ and ‘inappropriate’ in relation to same. That ignores the basic fact that this country has had more success in combating the pandemic than the UK has.
The death rate relative to population in the UK is nearly twice what it is in this country.
The results, therefore, do not back up Robert Sullivan’s claims.
Ireland must raise its game in tackling health conditions
Surely in the new Covid-19 world it is time to reset our priorities. As one of the lucky ones, which basically means I live in Australia, as high risk and HPV negative I am reminded and tested yearly for cervical cancer.
The costs of paps, poo-tests – the week before you turn 50 you get a bowel cancer test in the mail – and Cin removals ($365) are much less than even a day’s care for a cancer patient with the even stronger benefits of economic participation and not dying.
Local laboratories process and return tests within three days to a week. Follow-up tests are similar. Everyone is told the risks and the chances, and even when not a good story this minimises worry.
The poor patient treatment in Ireland leads to months of worry even if nothing is wrong.
Surely it is time for Ireland to use its brain trust to build local pathology labs and put effective processes in place to test and manage cancer and other health conditions including Covid-19-type outbreaks. If the politicians don’t have the competence to manage it, maybe there is a group of citizens who can take on the task.
Wolli Creek, NSW, Australia
Martin’s chaotic reign shows the need for an early election
Having watched the clip of Micheál Martin’s response to the Stasis-like antics at our airports and the cuts of pandemic payments for over 100 citizens that ensued, it is becoming easier to conclude that his chaotic leadership is fast becoming a menace to our democracy – the country is convulsed with anger after just a few weeks (“Martin on social welfare checks at airports during pandemic”, Irish Independent, July 28).
Surely a “dreaded” general election has now become imperative.