Squandering credibility - Another green elephant

TWO reports in recent days suggest that the popular view that the botched establishment of Irish Water was the high-water mark of buffoonery in Irish public and political administration may have to be reviewed.

European Commission and the Oireachtas reports pointed to failures in regulation, and to the utter incompetence of those entrusted with the critical task of monitoring EU national economies. The reports also pointed to greed so out of control in the private sector that most banks operated in a moral vacuum.

Those implosions — and emergency ward logjams — are the premiership failures of recent years, but the growing fiasco around Eircode, the postal codes introduced last July, suggests it is a strong contender for the First Division title.

The system, which cost something approaching €50m, is used on fewer than one in 10 letters or parcels. The comptroller and auditor general has questioned the project and suggested “it is not clear that benefits ... will be achieved”.

It is a tragedy that, less than a year after its introduction, the scheme looks set to join electronic voting, and state-sponsored iodine tablets as a response to nuclear attack, as another green elephant dreamt up in the ivory towers of Government. The real tragedy, though, is not incompetence or waste, but the unaffordable damage these regular fiascos do to the credibility of our political and public life — a credibility vital to the stability of our democracy.

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