Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Irish Royalty or Beggars on Horseback?

Ceann Comhairle (Speaker of Dáil Éireann - - the Irish Lower House) with his counterpart, Bernard Accoyer, President of the French National Assembly

It's no secret that the Irish Exchequer is for plundering by a legion of vested interests and the political class

There is no mileage in supporting parsimony in using public funds.

If we Irish want to blame the British, we might as well, as it's as good a self-serving excuse as any, but it puts our elite in the same class as the stereotypical African dictator.

We can look back to the early decades of the State for inspiration and there is much to admire but an RTÉ 1 documentary in 2004, showed that money also had its malign influence, when it detailed how Fianna Fáil party founder Eamon de Valera had funds that were raised in the US during the War of Independence (1919-1921), diverted for the establishment of the Irish Press newspaper, which ended up in the control of his own family.

The Sunday Tribune has reported that former Minister of Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, his wife Kate Ann, and his private secretary Therese O'Connor, ran up a travel bill of over €126,000 and possible a multiple of that, in the space of just two years.

Among the expenditure were a series of €900-a-night hotels, €7,591 on "airport pick-ups" during a two-day trip to London, €120 for hat rental, €250 for water taxis and €80 to "Indians for moving the luggage".

On one luxurious trip to Venice, the former arts minister, his wife and the civil servant ran up hotel bills of €5,834 at the Albergo San Marco, the Hotel Cipriani and the San Clemente Palace. The ministerial entourage travelled to Italy by government jet, where they were collected by a private airport boat and taken to their luxury accommodation.

The water taxi to and from the airport cost €250, while the minister, his wife and O'Connor claimed a further €1,300 in subsistence and expenses.

On another trip to Paris, Kate Ann O'Donoghue's hotel bill included €56 for a haircut, but this was later paid back as "personal expenses".

The €56 saved will be scant consolation to the taxpayer when set against the €900 a night the former minister paid out for an "apartment" in the Hotel Le Bristol during two days at the hotel.

The Tribune said on another occasion, O'Donoghue, who is now Ceann Comhairle, stayed in even more expensive accommodation with the nightly room rate at the Hotel Montfleury in Cannes costing €990 a night, and a total bill of almost €5,000. Car hire for that trip, related to the famous film festival in the Mediterranean city came to €9,616, according to the figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.

Asked to comment by the Irish Times on Monday, the department said: “Ministers, given the nature of the brief, travel abroad to high-profile events, such as the Venice Biennale, the Olympics, the World Cup matches, all of which are regarded as contributing to the promotion of Ireland as a tourism destination and a venue for international sports events. The costs of flights and accommodation for such events invariably involve a high premium worldwide.

“In relation to the procuring of accommodation and car hire, every effort is made to secure the best possible rates for the Minister and the delegation. The cost of facilities at airports relates to fees charged at a standard rate.”

Tourism development and promotion was “one of the key objectives of the department.” The tourism sector was “underpinned by the arts and sports sectors, which also serve to enhance the tourism product.”

“Given the nature of the arts, sport and tourism brief, it is customary and necessary for the Minister to attend major events in Ireland and abroad. International marketing is regarded as an essential activity in the attraction of tourists to Ireland.”

Of course it is and what else can you say?

Is it any wonder that the average citizen gives the two fingers to pleas for sacrifice from these chancers?

Anyway, shur what's the big deal being made by small minded losers when it's a drop in the ocean in a €60 billion spending.

Add up all the feather bedding and reckless use of public funds and it would come to more than a molehill.

Ask UCD economist Colm McCarthy.

Is it any wonder that they want to keep public spending information in the Victorian age?

And for the information released via the Freedom of Information Act, the Irish Government asked for €523 for copies of the expense claims. What was released was incomplete, and did not include the cost of flights or the use of the government jet, which would easily double the travel bill.

The Bull came to public prominence in the 1990s by advocating a zero tolerance to crime and that was copied from the then New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani.

The Waste Land - - Bord Snip, Irish Public Spending Transparency and the motto "Never do anything for the first time"

Lenihan publishes Bord Snip report; Proposes €5.3 billion in spending cuts and public sector staff reductions of 17,300; Says public pension cost at 30% of salary