A new attitude to finances?

An almost audible cheer rolled across the country this week when Finance Minister Michael Noonan was wonderfully direct when asked about bonuses for bankers. “I won’t even discuss them,” he said.

What a pity his colleague Environment Minister Phil Hogan was not as forthright when asked the same question about Irish Water employees.

Some years ago, when confronted with the latest in a litany of health service scandals then health minister Mary Harney said she “did not seek heads on plates”. The release last evening of a letter she and former taoiseach Brian Cowen got from the HSE after unexplained infant deaths at Portlaoise Hospital, a letter that assured them that there would not be a recurrence of the tragedies, might cause her to reconsider that generosity.

Our reluctance to impose the strictest sanctions on public service managers who repeatedly fail has cost us very dearly — something the parents of those babies would confirm.

Is it possible that Mr Noonan’s response on bankers’ bonuses is the first flicker of an overdue and welcome change in attitude? What a real game changer that would be.


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