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Economic rot started at the top

The ultimate in the ‘we are all to blame’ mantra was the abridged version of a speech given by Gerard Howlin to the MacGill Summer School, Monday, July 21 and published in your paper on July 23.

Reckless decisions by a small number of people in charge of Irish financial institutions over the best part of a decade rendered them insolvent. In addition government was simultaneously spending billions equally recklessly because of decisions made by the small number of people in charge during the years of the boom.

As a result this country was bankrupt.

What do we get from Gerard Howlin and his fellow contributors in the MacGill Summer School? Firstly he blames the multi-seat constituency. Single seat constituencies will give even more power to the insiders, who choose candidates, and less power to the ordinary members of the electorate to determine who governs us. Remember it was the insiders who bankrupt the country not the ordinary people.

Next we get the hoary old chestnut of ‘reforming’ the Seanad, by having it directly elected and giving it more power. That is just creating another Dáil. We already have one of those.

The Seanad is just an expensive, powerless, talking shop for the insider elite. It is not needed.

The public service then gets the blame. That ignores the fact that in a democracy the electorate elect people to represent them and to make decisions on their behalf. The public service are employed to carry out those decisions.

Lastly Gerard Howlin comes out with the extraordinary statement that ‘government is unchallenged by any systematic oversight’. What does he think the free media is for but to challenge powerful people and hold them to account in public? This country was bankrupt. Yet very few in the media challenged what was happening or shouted stop.

In fact, far from warning the rest of us of the possible dangers, most of the media cheer led the reckless decisions which bankrupt the country. Contrary to what Gerard Howlin and his MacGill Summer School alumni are saying, therefore, ‘We’ the ordinary people are not to blame ‘for the rot at the top’.

The small number of powerful people in charge of our boomtime, governmental, financial and media institutions are.

Anthony Leavy

1 Shielmartin Drive


Dublin 13


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