Play with words and think less about the action


Business Opinion/John McManus: The scene opens. It's the Tánaiste's office some time in mid 2004. There is a knock on the door. A Department of Enterprise and Employment mandarin pokes his head around the door....

Mandarin: Tánaiste?

Tánaiste: What?

Mandarin: Eoin O'Driscoll is here to see you.

Tánaiste: Who?

Mandarin: Eoin O'Driscoll.

Tánaiste: Yes, yes. I heard you. Who is he?

Mandarin: He is the chairman of the Enterprise Strategy Group. You appointed him last July and told him to report back in six to nine months. He is here to report.

Tánaiste: Good. I look forward to hearing his proposals on key competitiveness issues for the Irish economy, together with some recommendations on policy action required to enhance Ireland's competitive position.

Mandarin: Er....that would be William Burgess you are thinking of, Tánaiste.

Tánaiste: Pardon.

Mandarin: William Burgess. He is the head of the National Competitiveness Council which advises on key competitiveness issues for the Irish economy, together with recommendations on policy action required to enhance Ireland's competitive position. He was in last week with his annual report on the main challenges facing the enterprise sector over the medium term and the policy responses to meet them.

Tánaiste: So what is this O'Driscoll chap here for?

Mandarin: He is here to talk about a medium-term enterprise strategy and some responses to strengthen the competitiveness of Ireland's enterprise environment, while making recommendations on Ireland's future policy options for encouraging and generating growth and employment in the economy.

Tánaiste: What's the difference?

Mandarin: Umm.....Well. The Enterprise Strategy Group reports to you, whilst the National Competitiveness Council reports to the Taoiseach.

Tánaiste: Oh yes, I remember. Aren't they the crowd that analyse and report on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy.

Mandarin: I think you mean the National Economic and Social Council there Tánaiste.

Tánaiste: What?

Mandarin: NESC, chaired by Dermot McCarthy. Writes all those big reports.

Tánaiste: Are they one of mine?

Mandarin: No, Tánaiste.

Tánaiste: Are you sure? They sound familiar. Don't we have some crowd that has the job of leading the development of public policy for the promotion of enterprise and technological development in Ireland for the benefit of all by advising on policy to sustain competitiveness and growth?

Mandarin: That would be Forfás.

Tánaiste: Not NESC? Are you sure there is a difference?

Mandarin: Oh, absolutely. NESC reports to the Taoiseach's Department.

Tánaiste: I'm with you. Is that the thing Des Geraghty is on?

Mandarin: Sorry?

Tánaiste: Des Geraghty, the SIPTU chap, bit of poetry buff. Isn't he on NESC?

Mandarin: Well yes and no.

Tánaiste: What do you mean?

Mandarin: He is on the Enterprise Strategy Group as well.

Tánaiste: Hmm...there does seem to be a problem.

Mandarin: Well there has been some criticism in the press and elsewhere that all these bodies are just talking shop and really a smokescreen for inactivity by the Government.

There was a suggestion that it was pretty clear well over a year ago what had to be done to preserve jobs, but you substituted activity for action by creating yet another quango.

Tánaiste: What are you talking about?

Mandarin: The duplication of roles between all these bodies Tánaiste. You just brought it up.

Tánaiste: Are you feeling alright I was talking about Des Geraghty.

Mandarin: Excuse me.

Tánaiste: I want him to head up a new group I am going to establish. It will take all the reports from these various groups, read them and then take some action. The time for talking has stopped. If we don't take a few tough decisions soon, this country could be in serious trouble.

If you think the gains of the last decade are going to be squandered on my watch you are mistaken....

Mandarin: We sort of have one of those.

Tánaiste: Really....what's it called?.

Mandarin: The Cabinet.

Tánaiste: I see........

Mandarin: Tánaiste?

Tánaiste: Yes?

Mandarin: Mr O'Driscoll?

Tánaiste (wearily): Send him in.