With everybody following the Bertiegate affair over the last few weeks, it is easy to miss out on the usual fare of corruption and incompetence. The following is a brief list of just some to the events that may have been overlooked.
A cost overrun of at least €13 million on Dublin’s integrated ticketing system for public transport. The Comptroller and Auditor General said he was “disappointed but not surprised”. I know the feeling.
The Government has allocated most of Wednesday and Thursday to fast-track the Tribunal of Inquiry Bill. Clearly, politicians have had enough of the very limited accountability that from time to time arises from tribunal investigations. The killing off of the tribunals and the upcoming Privacy Bill will practically close down any kind of investigation into political/business corruption.
The Health Service Executive has, so far, succeeded in preventing the publication of a report into Leas Cross nursing home. Prof Des O’Neill, who carried out the investigation, insists that the report is complete but the HSE disagrees. This is a common strategy, delay or stop publication of reports until the case is forgotten or has lost all relevance.
Revenue has announced its latest amnesty. Ireland is the only country in the world that collects tax by amnesty. This is how it works – Revenue decides to target a particular group for tax inspection, in this instance, the legal profession. It informs all concerned of its intentions and offers an amnesty to any tax criminals within the group. Meanwhile, ordinary tax compliant citizens continue to pay the full amount with no special offers. All other countries, of course, just enforce tax laws.
THE Competition Authority is to carry out a second investigation into the proposed acquisition of Weyerhaeuser Europe by state-owned forestry firm Coillte. – I know nothing about this particular one, but it looks dodgy.
Slowly but surely the so called Financial Regulator continues to be exposed for the sham organisation it really is. The Consultative consumer panel, a body apparently set up to monitor the performance of Ifsra claims that the regulator is “slow to respond to consumer issues”. While this is a major understatement, it at least indicates that somebody else is beginning to realise that the Financial Regulator has just one mission – the protection of financial institutions at the expense of ordinary consumers.
It has been decided, not by the police, not by the law of the land, not by the so called Financial Regulator but by Allied Irish Banks, that, after an investigation into themselves, they are to take no disciplinary action against staff who for years were deliberately ‘overcharging’ customers on foreign exchange fees. This is a case that I will be returning to very soon for deeper analysis.