There’s no point in saying “happy new year” because it’s not going to be, is it? It’s going to be more of the same, and possibly worse, if you live in our little gombeen land.
So it's probably best if you get your slippers on, don your fleecy pyjamas (unless you have them on already, as day wear) and go to bed at 11pm tonight. That way at least you'll be starting 2010 with a clear head.
Let’s start the new year by looking back at how our spendthrift rulers wasted our money in 2009 - at least as it came to light in 2009 - culled from last Sunday's Tribune.
- Average salary at Udaras Na Gaeltachta, the regional authority for promoting the Gaeltacht, was €75,893. The body’s wage bill for just 112 people is €8.5 annually. It spent €170,000 of taxpayers’ money on overseas travel in just two years, and its job creation policies have shown a recent bias towards call centres. Call centres? What language do they use then? English I presume - and I thought it was forbidden?
- Senior and junior ministers employ over 300 public servants to assist them in their private Dail and constituency offices at a cost of over €16m a year. The Tribune article states that “…while 5,000 public servants have been cut from the payroll this year, many in frontline services, most ministers have failed to cut back on their private backroom staff.”
Mary Coughlan’s 18 private and constituency staff alone cost the exchequer over €1 million, while Mary Harney’s Department of Health weighs in at €2 million a year on 40 public servants for her and four junior ministers.
And all this despite requests from Cowen for ministers to cut down on such expenditure.
- Mountjoy prison received a €400 million refit to improve conditions in the Victorian jail. Fair enough. But how come Thornton Hall, which should provide humane conditions for those incarcerated by the State, is taking so long to build? Especially considering how much was paid for the site.
- The Central Statistics Office – the people who now tell us how deep in the shit we are – spent €29,075 on sending 10 of its officials to a conference in Durban in 2008, this year's accounts show. An exhibition stand used by the government body at the conference cost €6,720 to fit out.
Note to CSO accountants: Give me a shout next time, I’ll get some B&Q chipboard and do it for €6,000.
- Our old friend John O’Donughue spent €126,000 on expenses in less than two years, including €180 on hat hire for a race meeting, €250 for water taxis in Vienna (should that be Venice?) and an €80 tip to “the Indians moving the luggage”. Generous John, eh? But not with his own money I imagine.
- And, of course, we all know that taxpayers paid out €54 billion to buy the banks’ bad loan book of €77 billion, even though the current market value of the properties underpinned by the loans was estimated at €47 billion.
You can be sure it’s even less now.
Regular readers will know there were lots more examples of waste and Official Ireland stupidity that came to light last year, but it’s been a long year and I don’t have the energy to list them all here now. If you’re still up to it, you’ve always got the archive on the left. Anyway, we’ll have plenty of fresh material in 2010.
In the meantime, if you're a supporter of the blog, I hope your personal new year is as happy as it possibly can be.
At least you know what you're up against.
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