In early 2009, I compared the broken governance systems in Japan and Ireland even though both countries have got new governments after long-dominant crony parties were turfed out of office, little has changed.
There is little appetite for change in Ireland despite the crash.
University College Dublin has published research on governance systems and
the content below is my contribution to
a thread on the issue in the Irish Economy blog:
A culture changes very slowly and issues such as reform are not a priority in
a conservative society.
Process is boring and cannot match the level of interest when there are
perceived nefarious foreign forces to blame. We love to talk but the record of
running things is poor.
The level of transparency is also very poor; the available useful data on
public spending is primitive and conflict of interest remains a strange concept
RTÉ, Ireland's State
broadcaster, sees no problem in board members pitching for work to former
colleagues: "It would
not be in the interest of any public broadcaster, nor the public, for
independent producers of experience and skill . . . to be either barred from
board service or, if appointed to a board, to be barred from seeking to maintain
their business and livelihood by being disallowed from competing for programme
When it was disclosed in
2010 by The Irish Independent that the wife of Eamonn Gilmore, Labour
Party leader, had sold a two-and-a-half acre site in Galway
for €525,000 to the Department of Education, a LP spokesperson said: "She is a
private citizen and it is her money, not his."
The planning tribunal wound up after 15 years, lawyers became
multimillionaires and the corrupt land-rezoning system remains untouched.
Changing the power balance in the Oireachtas would help over coming decades
but the main interest of members will remain at the parish-pump level for the
Research resources have been improved in recent years, TDs have been given
additional staff (more opportunities for family jobs) but there is no evidence
of improvement in teh standard of output. 37,397 Parliamentary Questions (PQs)
were tabled in 2011 and Dáil Éireann registered second highest out of 18 Parliaments. The Irish figure is approximately three times the average number of
questions tabled of 12,515.
As for civil servants standing up to ministers, again unlikely to happen and
there are specialists in the area of science in enterprise agencies and in the
Enterprise Department, but it doesn't seem to matter.
The enterprise agency heads when they speak in public, it's usually babble
supporting the official line.
To borrow from 'The Irish Mind' fairytale, it permeates the 'eco-system.'
How likely is it in UCD that an insider would even question a pet project of
a professor that is wasting public funds?
Look no further than the public science budget over 10 years of €23bn to
wonder about governance: Oireachtas (houses of parliament) committee members not interested because
it's over their heads; university presidents vying for funds but showing no
interest in value for money issues; State agencies supporting ministerial
delusion that Ireland could clone a Silicon Valley where so many others have
failed; tech companies and IBEC welcoming lavish funds and captured journalists
dazzled by stories of Facebook, Apple etc.