Nail on the head

Letter is today’s Irish Times.


Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey’s attack on those he claimed had committed “economic treason” was entirely predictable, if a little belated. It is part of the strategy of Government leaders to blame international events and a small clique of speculators and bankers for all our woes.

They are being completely disingenuous in doing so and I do not believe the Irish people will be fooled.
The real architects of this economic debacle were the successive Fianna Fáil/PD governments under the “leadership” of Bertie Ahern. We were particularly unfortunate to have as taoiseach a man so lacking in political vision and integrity at a time of great, though transient, wealth. Successive Ahern administrations failed to manage the economy in a sustainable manner. Their ineptitude was staggering.

They claimed they wanted world-class public services at the same time as they were reducing taxes. They reduced direct taxes to the lowest level in Western Europe, simply to win elections, and now we find we have an unsustainably low level of taxation, which cannot allow us to even maintain the poor level of public services we currently “enjoy”.

They failed to institute a fair tax regime while giving generous tax breaks to speculators, fuelling the construction bubble. They also established less ethical, though technically legal, tax breaks, which have earned this country the dubious distinction of being compared to Lichtenstein. They were a government of “chancers” led by the “Dell Boy” of European leaders.

They established a regulatory regime which was lamentable, as we now know to our cost. They presided over a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money by adding layers of Government spin-doctors and advisers, often duplicating the work of civil servants. They appointed cronies to state bodies such as Fás, the organisation of jobs for the boys and junkets for the boys.

They established juggernaut bureaucracies such as the HSE. They built up a level of government spending that was patently unsupportable, based as it was on tax revenues from the sandy foundations of the construction industry and the property market.

All this time we were led by a man who, by his own admission, could not manage his own finances. So how in God’s name could we have expected anything other than the mess in which we are now mired?

Ahern’s decade has seen arguably the worst government in the history of this State, certainly the most morally bankrupt. It has made paupers once again of the Irish people.

The leading figures of these administrations of the past twelve years – Ahern, Harney, McCreevy, Cowen, et al., are the real economic traitors.

Yours, etc,
Dublin 16.