Dáil Sketch: Phil and Enda’s eggcellent adventure

The business of “micro-managing” a project which is only one of the most significant in the history of his Government department would be far too tedious for Big Phil, who is more interested in looking at the bigger picture. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

The business of “micro-managing” a project which is only one of the most significant in the history of his Government department would be far too tedious for Big Phil, who is more interested in looking at the bigger picture. Photograph: Cyril Byrne.

Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 01:00

Do you not know who they think they are? Of course not. You know nothing. On the other hand, the consultants know everything about everything. Most important of all, they know how to charge. Exceptional performance doesn’t come cheap.

Even Big Phil knows you can’t make a decent omelette without breaking a few Fabergé eggs, as he pointed out yesterday. But it’s worth the outlay in the end.

His use of this eggy metaphor in explaining the eye-watering cost of setting up Uisce Éireann caused quite a stir. We were more intrigued by his reference to making an omelette. As if Phil Hogan would know how to make such a class of a thing.

He strikes one as the type of man’s man whose only acquaintance with a frying pan would be a wallop from the business end of a Tefal.

Similarly, the business of “micro-managing” a project which is only one of the most significant in the history of his Government department would be far too tedious for Big Phil, who is more interested in looking at the bigger picture.

Drivel in the detail
So when Irish Water was being established, he gave the lads and lassies engaged on the job €180 million and told them to run off and get it done and not to be bothering him with the detail.

Former taoiseach Albert Reynolds got into trouble when he told the beef tribunal he liked to be a “one-sheet man.” Just one piece of paper with the key points of a plan set out for him to make sure things were happening to his satisfaction. Phil doesn’t even want to see a few sums scribbled on the back of a matchbox. He employs people to employ consultants to get on with the job of spending the nation’s money.

Big Phil hasn’t time to be sweatin’ the small stuff – like the €50 million or so shelled out on consultants to consult over the setting up of Bord Gush. “The usual suspects,” as one Senator called these huge companies yesterday. “Delighted and Touched” as Pat Rabbitte once called one of the leading lights of this big money brigade.

They got a mention at the hearing of the Public Accounts Committee, which was a relief. It wouldn’t have been fair to see them missing out on the State-funded bonanza the rest of their consultancy chums are enjoying at the birth of Bord Gush – the watery offshoot of Bord Gáis.

These are the lucky corporations which have their fingers in every luscious financial pie-chart going and their fingerprints across many of the financial disasters and cock-ups that have beggared this country in recent years. Spending money like water is fine, before the meters go in.

The men from Bord Gush – all men – were before an Oireachtas committee for the second time in 48 hours yesterday. They still think we’re getting “good value” from the tens and tens of millions that have been spent setting up the organisation.

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