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Political showboating and civil service ennui

"Frank assessments of the dynamic within the civil service coming directly from those currently charged with watching over it are rare."

Is this a quote from Alice in Wonderland or a sardonic side-swipe? Conor Ryan’s investigative survey (June 27) of “a recently prepared document by the most senior auditors working in Government departments” tackles both sides of the dynamic.

The audit fingers ministerial ‘wanabeeism’ as destructive. The political-civil-service interface “is polluted by ministers motivated by a ‘look-at-what-I-have-delivered’ syndrome”. This is matched by the ineptitude of many within the civil service, where there is lack of performance evaluation, suspect promotion, dilatory delivery, and enquiry ennui.

We can take it as read that politics is about self-aggrandisement. However, the ensconced civil-servant should be questioned. He has a permanent position and perks, and hides behind the minister, rather than act with purpose.

The endless obfuscation of bureaucracy is a labyrinth for many, myself included. Petty inter-departmental rivalries stultify productivity. The troubled evolution of the Health Service Executive from the former health boards, is an example of the malaise. Political misjudgement led to the establishment of the HSE, which became the ‘bete-noire’ of the Department of Health, which felt emasculated re the removal of health budget decision-making.

Of course, when Kevin Cardiff was appointed to the European Court of Auditors the game was surely up. Accountability is for wimps, it seems.

Jim Cosgrove


Co Waterford


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