THE Heritage Council report for 2014, which will be published shortly, once again highlights one of our least attractive and self-deluding characteristics — paying nothing more than lip service to doing the right thing while not enforcing laws designed to protect and benefit everyone.
Michael Starrett, chief of the State body charged with overseeing Ireland’s built, cultural, and natural heritage has warned that the watchdog does not have the resources it needs to do its job properly. The agency’s funding has been slashed by almost 90% since 2011. It is not the only agency caught in this dilemma, one undoubtedly exploited by unscrupulous, uncaring people and businesses.
The Heritage Council joins a long list of agencies unable to do the job expected of them because they are under-resourced. These include the charity commissioner, fishery protection officers, garda vetting units, the Revenue Commissioners’ investigations unit, workplace safety inspectors, and, believe it or not, the financial regulatory services. There are many more under-gunned watchdogs and though economic constraints are, or were, part of the problem, there is also a destructive belief that having a law on the statute books is enough and that enforcing legislation takes things a step too far. Is it any wonder that last week’s conviction of three former employees of Anglo Irish Bank, almost a decade after the bank’s collapse, seemed such a very novel event?
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