RTEs Prime Time did a piece on the brutal war in Iraq last night. This can make for depressing viewing so I was delighted that some enlightened producer decided to follow up with a great comedy sketch.
This involved an interview with Ann Fitzgerald, chairperson of the National Consumer Agency. This new agency has taken over from the old Office of the Director of Consumer Affairs (Who comes up with these titles?) headed by Carmel Foley.
Carmel was famous for her obsession with slapping €100 fines on multi-million profit pubs for not displaying proper price lists.
Ms Fitzgerald, in true Star Trek tradition, announced that she is going to go where no one has gone before on behalf of the consumer.
Miriam O’Callaghan asked what she going to do about corrupt management companies. (See here for analysis of this particular skullduggery)
According to Ms Fitzgerald there’s half a million people having trouble in this area but legislation won’t be available for two or three years so in the meantime the NCA has set up a forum – to talk about it.
Everybody is aware of the ruthless manner in which many developers abandon unfinished sites and move on to the next lucrative deal. (See here for analysis)
Ms. Fitzgerald expressed genuine puzzlement at the non implementation of a law that allows local authorities to refuse planning to such rogue developers. All I can say is; bless her innocence.
The NCA will be operating on a budget of €8.5 million and a handful of staff. With this paltry sum we are assured they will take on and defeat the powerful and the corrupt.
Developers like the tax evading Bailey Brothers, who recently made a €22 million tax settlement with Revenue will be shaking in their boots and I’m sure the Irish financial sector is agog with fear and panic.
When Miriam pointed that we’ve had ineffective toothless agencies for years Ms Fitzgerald brought in the heavy artillery.
She was going to name and shame, she was going to fine shops on the spot that didn’t display prices and she was going to seek undertakings from businesses that didn’t treat consumers fairly.
It was at this point I reached for the brandy.
To get a real sense of the power and determination of this new colossus of Irish law enforcement I strongly recommend a peek at their website. There you can participate in a quiz and read all about the dramatic recall of a Ladybird infants book and a Smyths Toys baby soother.
No, really, I’m not joking