Loss of key decision-makers cannot be ignored

THIS year's mass exodus of our most experienced public servants is a cause for great concern and yet another worrying result of the troika-directed efforts to save our blighted economy.

Kerry is losing scores of its most experienced public servants this week as so many eligible opt for retirement with secure remuneration rather than face uncertainty into the future.

Those who are going cannot be blamed in the least for their decision to retire; in fact most do so with a heavy heart, saddened that so many years' service has had to end prematurely with much work left undone.

The real concern is for the frontline staffing in our police, health and education services primarily.

It is welcome that Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton has announced a special 'transition' programme — to ensure a continuity of staffing levels at the coalface of policing and health, among other vital services.

However, the loss might yet prove to be not so great in staffing numbers as it is in terms of real, vital experience.

Hundreds of the most senior gardaí and nurses will depart the Garda Síochána and the HSE taking with them decades of hard-earned experience and all that brings with it; including the ability to make key decisions on the lives of people in a split second and the ability to administer complex systems with efficiency and common sense.

Teachers with deep knowledge of the learning needs of their students and the running of schools also depart in droves. The same is true for staff at our county council, where 32 people have retired across the four county authories, according to preliminary figures on Tuesday. Those 32 retirees have been responsible, until now, for some of the most primary services we have, from water to waste and so on.

It is no surprise that many in the county are worried about the future of their communities with this 'brain drain'. The implications scarcely need to be outlined. Suffice to say that without this level of apparently wise management at the top of our public services in Kerry, it is unknown how these organisations will cope with their huge challenges in the near future.

What can be stated is that it will certainly make things harder on those remaining.

As ever, we must ask as to the real economic return for this shoring-up of top salaries nationally.

Is it worth more to the State to reduce numbers at the highest pay streams than it is to lose so much experience in a single go?

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