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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 5, 2009 @ 12:40 pm

    No Joking Matter at the Taoiseach’s Dinner

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    The Taoiseach’s annual Cairde Fáil dinner of party supporters last night at Citywest was a low-key affair. Any journalists hoping for a row were disappointed. Brian Cowen’s speech was in the “Workmanlike” category: we shall soldier on, pay talks or no pay talks.

    The audience applauded  at one stage during the speech and there was the statutory standing ovation at the end. No heckling. No dissenting backbenchers.

    Indeed, backbenchers were fairly thin on the ground: I couldn’t spot Mattie McGrath anywhere and there was of course no sign of Jim McDaid who has lost the whip anyway. There was a large crowd and the Taoiseach did a certain amount of mingling and gladhanding.

    But he cannot compare in this department with the Maestro himself, Bertie Ahern. I could swear that, two years ago, the “Bert” covered the entire room of 2,500 people, shaking hands with each and every individual. “How’s the hard-working man,” was his standard greeting. In this respect anyway, we shall not see his likes again.

    On that occasion, there was an hilarious comedy routine by Oliver Callan where he did a marvellous take-off of the party leader. None of that this time: the present situation is clearly no joking matter.

    • Diarmuid says:

      “we shall not see his likes again.”


    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      I wonder if public opinion really was so set against unpaid leave, which as I said is already underway in the public sector at the Government’s behest. What we are talking about here is forced unpaid leave rather than the voluntary unpaid leave schemes the Government already has in place for public sector workers.

      There may have been an element of knee jerk anger and I am not aware that it was as widespread as the media seems to think.

    • Desmond FitzGerald says:

      Was Bertie there? Of course. I rather suspect if Bertie were to appear at such a meeting now he would get short shrift which is why the creep stays away and gets more bitter day by day.

      What amazes me if that there are still morons in Ireland too thick to understand their attendance at stunts like this keep this wretched lot in power when they are all patently unfit for public office. There is no a single rep of FF in the entire country who is fit for public office.

      How low does Ireland have to go for the penny to drop with voters that continued support for FF = continued corruption and failure to tackle any of the issues Ireland faces.

    • robespierre says:

      Joanna, everyone I know in the private sector is still stupefied at the proposal.

      Office space needs to be consolidated
      Processes examined and roles and responsibilities streamlined across all departments and agencies
      IT platforms require extensive consolidation and standardisation

      I am pretty sure I could find multiples of the 4bn without too much difficulty.

    • Joanna Tuffy says:

      I think a lot of people in the private sector would have felt it was better to have a deal, even if that deal included proposals for compulsory unpaid leave.

      The Government in recent months already announced voluntary unpaid leave schemes for some sections of the public sector. The reasons they state they are introducing unpaid leave under “Shorter Working Year Schemes” is for work-life balance and letting public sector workers take up to 13 weeks’ unpaid leave. I don’t think the Government has suddenly got worried that public sector workers need more time with their families!

      As a public servant wrote in a letter to the Tribune yesterday, “When private sector workers are given unpaid leave this is called reduced hours, but when public service workers are threatened with unpaid leave this is called holidays”.

      As for the things you mention above, all sensible and in the power of the Government irrespective of public pay deals.

    • Joanna, it is comments like these that lead me ever more to the conclusion that you are of the view that the public sector primarily exists to give people jobs and not to provide services to the public who pay for them.

    • robert kellaghan says:

      It was a great nite. Fianna Fáil is one big happy family.

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