One of the striking things about the power apparatus in Ireland is the myriad of cross-pollinating relationships within it. I don’t see “the government” as simply a selection of TDs from a parliamentary majority who form the Cabinet. These people have little or no power. If they had real power, the likes of Mary Coughlan would never become Tanaiste. They represent around 10% of the real power in Ireland. The rest is made up of the influence of the banks and insurance companies, the CIF (who own, to a large extent, FF), the upper levels of civil administration, public bodies like the HSE, Fas and the like, IBEC, PR companies/lobbying groups, the panoply of quangos and the mouthpiece for the “consensus”, RTE.
Complicit in this cosy structure and the maintaining of it in situ are the trade union movement and the media, particularly the Independent News Group. The lines between public and “private” get blurred (particularly when “private” companies exist on public monies dubiously awarded)
Cross-pollinating relationships are rife across this structure. They reinforce themselves in public bodies and quangos, in departments and private lobby companies, in our now-insolvent banks and union movement. The potential for conflicts of interest are huge but this power circle know how not to rock the boat and know that even if they do get caught out, the way to go is to simply brazen it out and further lower standards in Ireland until we arrive at where we are today, with public standards in the sewer and corruption everywhere in Irish public life.
So it doesn’t really matter who is in the Dail because these people have no real power and are there basically to serve those who exercise the other 90% of the power in the country. Those who exercise that 90% of the power would not tolerate able, talented, public-spirited people in elected office because such people are difficult to control.
In short, TDs and Senators, with a couple of exceptions, are the hired help, there to serve those who exercise 90% of the power. Which is why the quality is so low. They are happy to take the vast paychecks and unvouched expenses that comes with the office they hold. But that is the very point. They are in office but NOT in power because they don’t exercise the power.
When I mention the word nomenklatura, this is what I mean.
Slim Buddha 22 July 2010