Sorry, the longer I do this blog the more I feel like I'll be getting a shouty column in the Oirish Daily Mail very soon.
But bloody hell, there comes a point when you have to ask what is going on in the seemingly parallel world of the Irish public service?
According to an Irish Times editorial "Grandstanding on Property Tax" (19th December), our public services (including pensions) cost €1.3 billion a month to run.
But even in times such as these, when our rotten little kip is being kept afloat by IMF and EU money (we cannot afford to borrow on the bond markets), there is still a residual attitude that public money - borrowed as it is at present - is a limitless resource.
Have a look at the following extract taken from, not the Mail, but the Irish Examiner of January 14th. And apologies to any productive hospital workers I might know!
Hospital worker gets €60k to retire despite spending 18 years on sick leave
Saturday, January 14, 2012
A HOSPITAL worker was given almost €60,000 to leave the HSE under last year’s "cost-saving" voluntary retirement and redundancy schemes — despite being on unpaid sick leave for 18 years.
Documents obtained by the Irish Examiner show the unnamed employee was one of 61 HSE South staff paid to leave despite not being on the state payroll. Twenty people had been off it for five years or more. The figures are detailed by an HSE internal audit examination of the exit schemes.
According to the 26-page document, 232 of the 2,003 people who initially took up the national programme to cut health service payroll costs were based in the HSE South. But 61 of those had not worked in the system "for an extensive period". They included a former worker who had been on unpaid sick leave since 1992, when his paid sick leave had expired.
The audit said despite concerns over this person’s eligibility under the scheme, it was decided that under the Redundancy Payments Act he was entitled to almost €60,000: two weeks’ pay per year for 1992 to 2010 (€33,354); an undisclosed bonus week payment; a €23,664 ex-gratia payment and €1,130 "in lieu of notice" to leave under the cost-saving measure.
A similar internal review of exit scheme take-ups in the HSE Mid-West found that one applicant was incorrectly given €10,000 in taxpayers’ money.
The raft of internal audits released under the Freedom of Information Act includes details of:
* How doctors at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar cost the taxpayer millions of euro by failing to fill out private inpatient paperwork, some from five years ago, and saw costs written off as "bad debt".
* Concerns over how "acting up" payments for staff to cover more senior posts are used for longer periods instead of finding full-time employees to fill the roles...
It really is hard to reconcile all this nonsense with the fact that, but for the bailouts, the country is bankrupt, and recent tax increases are unlikely to see any boost to the exchequer as people have been bled dry at this stage. 23% of nothing is much the same as 21% of nothing, after all.
No matter what Kenny says - and his record for false promises is second to none - another bailout looks likely, and that is bound to come with conditions... which is probably just as well.
'Tis a great little land.
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