Misplaced loyalty

As time goes on it is becoming more and more obvious that civil servants are more concerned about the interests of their political masters than the interests of citizens.

Consider the following letter published recently in the Irish Independent.


Your lead headline (July 5) was predictable in its timing, but not only was it boringly repetitive, it was wholly inaccurate. TDs will not ‘cut and run’ for a ‘three-month holiday’.

Rather, the Dail and Seanad will be in recess until mid- September. During what you describe as a ‘holiday’, up to 40 parliamentary committee meetings will also be conducted.

Moreover, members will continue to conduct a wide range of constituency duties, a function that they fulfil seven days a week throughout the year. The Oireachtas actually compares well with other parliaments – it has a below average number of recess (nonsitting) weeks per year, Of parliaments we surveyed recently, it has the fourth least number of recess weeks.

It also has fewer recess weeks than Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark – countries often admired for their democracy.

In relation to sitting days, our parliament records second place in the same survey with a total of 1278 sitting hours and 177 sitting days for both houses per year. This is ahead of other two chamber parliaments, such as South Africa and Australia.

Finally, where parliamentary questions arise, the Oireachtas, with 40,875 questions tabled, rates second place out of the nine parliaments we surveyed.
I’d ask your readers to consider these points when forming a more considered opinion of the work of members of the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Mark Mulqueen
Head of Communications
Houses of the Oireachtas

Here’s an extract from the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour as outlined on the Standards in Public Office Commission website.

(d) All civil servants above clerical level are totally debarred from engaging in any form of political activity.

Civil servants in category (d) may not engage in public debate (e.g. letter writing to newspapers, contributions to television or radio programmes, etc.) on politics except if required to do so as part of their official duties.

2 thoughts on “Misplaced loyalty”

  1. Oh, isn’t that luv-er-ly… but what the hell did they do when they were there, other than mis-manage everything that came their way, and turn this Green Isle into a swamp with a huge financial debt. And all this on account of their croneyistic, bred in the FF, jobs-for-the-boys version of Tammany Hall pork-barrel politics – ah, shure, it’ll be alright on the day, now… (they’ll just remember the good ole days) And they have taken a Country with the population of Manchester, or Toronto, or Philadelphia and turned it into their own kingdom. They have submerged it in quangos; layered it with TD’s who are not needed; covered it with committees and County Councils there for their own interest; and plundered it with FAS’s, REPS’, grants ad infinitum to anybody (read voter) for anything; (speak Irish, that’ll do) poured money into so-called heritage schemes and we still have dirty water; ‘main’ roads full of pot-holes; no account broadband; inefficient (but overstaffed and overpaid) public services who most of the time don’t even get out from behind their comfortable desk for anything (except a local Minister). We have Ministers of State who write whatever is asked letters of support on behalf of party-hack supplicants for illegal planning applications (and this is right up to the Higher Levels of our so-called Government) and in a large County which has THREE Litter Wardens; but ask them how much their bill was over the past three years to party it up in New York, (March 17th – probably submerged somewhere) apparantly the Nirvana of Irish Politicians at party time… Where there are Government reps who don’t turn out to answer legitimate complaints of wrongdoing, just because that’s their habit (why would you want to be disturbing so-and-so?). And it’s a blessing that civil servants may not engage in public debate – they might find that they were on a sticky wicket, to say the least, if they did. And the further North West you go, so people say, it gets worse. And if they cut Garda stations and stop Garda recruiting, then the drink drivers who are ‘locally important’ and ‘related to somebody or other important, read FF’ will have even less to worry about. If they start charging for water, then they’d better be able to certify the product as pure, clean, and wholesome – just Irish water won’t obviously do, otherwise Supreme Court for them…
    I’m going away for a holiday, and I’m glad. It’s getting to be the pits.

  2. a) I don’t think Mark Mulqueen is a civil servant.
    b) Who’s to say he’s not writing the letter in an official capacity. Communicating information about the Oireachtas would seem to be within the remit of the Head of Communications for the Houses of the Oireachtas.

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