Let’s cut to the chase here. Clientism as operated by Irish politicians is a corrupt system that has only one aim – to buy votes.
There are 351,000 public servants in Ireland – yes, you heard right – 351,000 each earning on average €45,000 a year. This massive organization exists to serve a tiny national population of 4 million, to operate, inform and resolve systems and problems for those citizens. There are also numerous government and non government organizations totally dedicated to resolving citizen problems.
There was a very interesting discussion on the matter on last Sunday’s Marian Fincuane show (28th). Prof. JA Murphy said that clientism was
“An essential part of Irish democracy, everywhere, not only in Ireland but where Irish democracy took roots, in the US and Australia.”
Irish democracy? As opposed to what other type of democracy? Unwittingly, I think the Prof. has in mind Tammany Hall democracy, which of course is rampant in our little banana republic but which has been stamped out in America.
Pat Cox provided an invaluable insight into how others see our Tammany Hall democracy. Years back when he was a TD he phoned the American embassy for ‘a client’ who was having visa problems. They couldn’t help but out of curiosity he asked them about their policy on such approaches.
“Look it, the truth is that we get in letters from Irish public representatives about people’s character and so on. They come on demand, someone walks in, they get the letter. They get it from three, four, five, six public representatives. We just don’t bother with this stuff anymore, it just doesn’t count, we discount it completely.”
Pat went on to say “…those who are not part of the Irish political culture stand back, I think, a bit aghast…”
The most interesting and damning case discussed concerned a certain judge Brennan who sued Ireland because he was so annoyed at the level of political interference in his judgements. The case involved four judgements by judge Brennan.
Amazingly, the High Court found that the judge was one hundred percent right but they wouldn’t find in his favour because it would be unfair to single out the four test cases. (This was described as the court exercising an unusual discretion)
Apparently, the case also gave rise to serious constitutional problems but they would ‘revisit that another day.’
Tammany Hall – Alive and well.