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Michael O'Doherty: What on earth did any of us do to deserve Noel Dempsey?

They say that every country gets the government it deserves. So will someone please tell me what the Irish people have done so wrong to be run by these clowns?

In any other time, the shambolic performances last week of Willie O'Dea and John Gormley would have been terminal.

But how grateful they must be that they've been out-buffooned by Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey who has, almost overnight, become a poster boy for arrogant, useless, out-of-touch politicians.

It's ironic that just as this country is reaching its lowest ebb, nature decided to unleash its worst winter on us for 40 years. But that should have been the perfect moment for our ministers, who've hardly covered themselves in glory in the past year, to show us what they're made of. A tiny bit of leadership, that's all we wanted.

Of course Noel Dempsey, at his departmental desk, probably couldn't have done much more than he has, lounging beside a pool in Malta. And no one actually expected him to be shovelling grit onto the roads of Ireland.

But the problem with all the bumbling, incompetent cretins who've presided over this mess, is that they just don't get it.

So used are they to thinking nothing of spending f500 to have a limousine bring them from one airport terminal to another, they simply can't get their heads around what it is that enrages people so much.

Politics isn't just about leadership -- it's also about perception.

Even when you're powerless to do good, it's important to give the impression that you're at least trying. Obama, Sarkozy, Brown ... all of them would have cancelled their holidays, appreciating the importance of seeming to care, even if their own personal sacrifice is little more than a token gesture.

But this is a concept that seems to have escaped Noel Dempsey who, as the man in charge of Ireland's transport system, decided to go on a sun holiday the very day that Ireland was entering its worst transport crisis in 40 years.

In a time of national emergency, the minister has revealed himself to be nothing short of a national disgrace.

The image of commuters shivering in the snow, waiting for non-existent buses; drivers sliding helplessly on icy roads; the nation grinding to a complete standstill, as the Minister for Transport rubbed a bit more factor 10 onto his chubby arms, is a defining one.

It's an image that shows everything that is wrong, not just with this Government, but with so many self-serving, buck-passing Irish politicians.

In any other line of business, Noel Dempsey would be hauled into his boss's office the day he gets back, told that he has brought shame on the country, and told to clear his desk.

But that would take an element of leadership from his boss, Brian Cowen.

And let's face it, if we've learnt anything in the past week, it's that we shouldn't hold our breath for that ...

Bah, just another week of humiliation

Why does everyone hate one of my life's works?

Last week brought further humiliation.

My VIP magazine was shortlisted for a rather inglorious award.

The Gooseberry Awards, which honour the worst this country has to offer, take place in the Sugar Club this Thursday, and VIP has been nominated as Ireland's Worst Magazine.

For reasons I've never quite fathomed, no one likes to admit that they read VIP.

They must be out there, as independent research proves that more than 150,000 Irish people do so every month.


So, in VIP Towers, we content ourselves with the old argument -- given the choice between respect and success, which would you rather?

My view is respect tends to come from commentators, media analysts, etc, while success comes courtesy of the general public.

So, as long as we're successful, I'll put up with the bitchiness of snobbish commentators, and let the criticism wash right off us.

We're the Joe Duffy of Irish publishing -- you all claim to hate us, but deep down you secretly have a soft spot for us.

So gooseberries or no gooseberries, we'll trudge on.

Unless, of course, we become the Noel Dempsey of Irish publishing -- then I'll know it's time to pack it in.

Novelty bets about people's jobs not funny

Everyone's favourite bookies, Paddy Power, thought we needed a bit of cheering up last week.

Well known for its novelty bets, it sent out a press release hot on the back of the news that Dublin's private Residence Members' Club was going into examinership.

It's easy to see why it's so quick off the mark with these novelty bets.

The publicity they generate makes them seem like a friendly company, happily contributing to the gaiety of the nation -- as opposed to a gambling conglomerate, raking in cash from desperate punters who dream of striking it lucky on horses or poker.

This press released asked: "Which would be the next night club to go bust?"

And it offered odds on five well-known Dublin venues.

A bit of harmless fun, you might say? Well I don't think so ...

Firstly, poking fun in a way that might actually damage successful clubs, which create hundreds of jobs, shouldn't be anyone's idea of a great wheeze.

More importantly, you would have thought that the management of Paddy Power, in charge themselves of employing hundreds of people, understand how whispering campaigns work -- that once rumours start that you're in financial trouble, they serve only to make your problems worse, and often become a self-fulfiling prophecy.

So what do you think are the odds of one the bosses of Paddy Power coming out and apologising for this appallingly ill-judged stunt?

About a million to one, I'd say ...