It seems nothing ever really changes in Irish politics. The faces may be different but otherwise it’s business as usual.
Fine Gael & Labour took office in 2011 promising a new type of politics; one free from the corruption and cronyism that had dogged the previous Fianna Fail administration.
Today we hear that Labour Minster Pat Rabbitte, in the dying days of his Ministry, took the opportunity to appoint two failed Labour Councillors to various boards and quangos.
The mysteries that have always shrouded the awarding of government contracts also persist.
The controversial installation of Irish Water meters (an extremely lucrative contract) is being carried out by GMC/Sierra, a company owned by billionaire and long standing Fine Gael supporter Denis O’Brien. It transpires that this company was only incorporated two weeks prior to being awarded the contract, despite ostensibly having competed in a rigorous tender process.
A brick still hasn’t been laid in the sorely needed Children’s Hospital, as controversy continues over its location. Earlier this year the well-respected founder of the Blackrock Clinic, Jimmy Sheehan, offered to build the hospital for the people of Ireland, funded through philanthropy, but the government politely declined. Had they accepted his proposal, the hospital would have opened its doors in 2017. Perhaps vested interests stood to gain nothing from this private venture. There would be no palms to grease for state funded contracts, no political capital to be gained from siting the facility in a particular constituency.
This debacle is reminiscent of the offer that a Japanese firm made in the early 80’s to construct an underground system in the capital. Their only stipulation was that they would be awarded the contract to operate it. Once again vested interests dismissed the offer and we are left with a public transport system inferior to that of many developing nations.
Meanwhile Enda Kenny flagrantly flaunts the democratic process by insisting that the Banking Enquiry has a majority of government TD’s and we hear that no files from the fateful cabinet meeting that culminated in the Bank Guarantee can be disclosed to the Enquiry, rendering it toothless before it even begins.
Yes, the great merry-go-round of Irish politics continues to spin.