Our leaders look after themselves

OIREACHTAS members have set a very poor example on benchmarking.

Is it not miraculous that the one issue that always seems to evoke unanimous decisions in Leinster House is that of major wage hikes for the members themselves?

No uproar or indignant opposition to these proposals. No suggestion that the member might forego one year's increase to help aid the many disadvantaged groups in society.

And on top of all this, Oireachtas members are also beneficiaries of the public service benchmarking reward.

There is, however, one major difference. In order to qualify for payment public service workers must agree to offer some increased productivity. No such condition applies to TDs or senators. They qualify automatically with no change in work practice. Such change was neither sought nor offered. The collective cost is enormous, with little or no productivity.

Our leaders are promoting a sad culture in Ireland do as little as you can for as much as you can.

In a recent benchmarking debate I recall the following contribution: "You would want to be a fool to be an honest person in Ireland today. We are, sadly, the most corrupt country in Europe."

Not my words, but those of a Eurocrat addressing an assembly recently in Dublin. Millions of euro are spent in tribunals and inquiries set up to try and come to grips with a long legacy of corruption in politics. What have they achieved? Nothing except further expense for the taxpayers as the legal eagles swell their already fat coffers.

The cost of benchmarking payments to local authorities will be immense. It will cost Cork Co Council in excess of 10 million in 2004.

Local authorities are the only area of the public sector which have to pay benchmarking themselves. It will seriously disrupt council services. Cork Co Council maintains, and I agree, that benchmarking should be paid by the national exchequer. The council has made its written protest to the Minister for Finance and via its delegates on the General Council of County Councils and the Local Authority Members Association.

Oireachtas members could also raise their voices in protest.

Cllr Noel Collins,

'St Jude's,'

Midleton,

Co Cork.

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