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Fianna Fáil Minister of State opines about the civil service. He shouldn’t have. September 26, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Now, perhaps this is petty, but I couldn’t suppress the urge to smile when I heard the news yesterday that Minister of State John McGuinness had been, as it were, hoist by his own petard. And no better man for that to happen to.

For it was the same Minister, from our beloved populist – a little bit centre left a whole lot centre right – Fianna Fáil who had suggested over the Summer that

…jobs needed to be cut across the civil service and State sector. In an address to the Beverage Council of Ireland’s annual conference last Friday he described the public service as “now so protected by its unions that it has largely become a reactionary, inert mass at the centre of our economy”.

He said the public service culture “destroys ambition, resists change, and is now so insulated from reality that information can be withheld from a Minister, unfavourable reports are doctored and answers to parliamentary questions… are master classes in dissemination and obfuscation…”

His rhetoric went further again describing civil servants as:

“featherless but still plump State hens”

The small matter of the following was raised…

Eoin Ronayne, CPSU deputy general secretary, said the comments were “rich coming from a triple-jobber holding what some see as questionable junior ministerial posts”.

And a small problem for his analysis?

Why the claim raised in the Dáil by Labour – and unrefuted – that:

…he had 10 staff employed in his private and constituency offices.

But as ever it is the laziness of all this that really gets me. McGunness clearly couldn’t even be arsed to check out whether he himself, y’know (just to be clear I use that term in the Tony Blair sense i.e. entirely sarcastically), might just be open to attack on this front. No, better by far to opine at length and offensively about a topic which he ‘knows’ about in much the same way as Dev ‘knew’ the opinion of the Irish people by looking into his own heart.

And isn’t it telling that such ‘knowledge’ and ideas proliferate in our society in a way that is arguably highly destructive to the society? That someone like McGuinness should effectively attempt to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds on this issue is risible. It is near irrelevant that the government began to back away from his comments in recent days as the obvious became clear – that they simply could not stand over what he was saying on any level. What it does do is demonstrate a conceptual bankruptcy at the heart of our politics on such issues where glib and unfounded attacks can be made from within government with no fear of sanction, where basic concepts such as the public good and the importance of civil service are there simply to be used for political gain.

That his comments come at a time when the pretensions of the market have been demonstrated to many far beyond the left to be without substance is unfortunate for him. Good.


1. Dan Sullivan - September 27, 2008

I thought it odd at the time that this FOI didn’t get more attention.


Even I was surprised at the extent to which the electoral prospects of junior ministers were subsidised by the taxpayer.


2. WorldbyStorm - September 27, 2008

Sadly I’m not 😉


3. Another weekend… another poll! Red C in the Sunday Business Post have no good news for Fianna Fáil… « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - April 26, 2009

[…] essentially fatuous comments about the public sector were in some part responsible for his downfall – and no mention of the Junior Minister’s own remarkable employment scheme for the public sect…), ain’t going to happen any time soon. Although. Although. It does look as if medium term […]


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