Purging politics of ‘dysfunction’

A chara, – In response to Fintan O'Toole's article "Five ways to purge politics of 'dysfunction'" (Analysis, December 2nd), I must say that I disagree with his argument that more accountability in the Civil Service is desirable. While the word "accountability" does hold positive connotations to many, it is not the case that more of it will necessarily lead to better outcomes.

Holding civil servants to greater degrees of accountability will likely have the effect of discouraging the public service’s more enterprising members from putting forward their own ideas.

This country has had a long-standing problem with groupthink, and many of the conundrums we face today can at the very least be partly attributed to this phenomenon. More ideas from our civil servants, not fewer, are needed. – Is mise,



Co Dublin.

A chara, – Fintan O’Toole makes good suggestions but to enact change we, the voters, must first examine our own behaviours, honestly. We can no longer vote for any political party simply because our family always has.

We need to hold politicians accountable by never re-electing them if they fail to deliver at national level, we need to start voting for the best candidate on the ballot paper and we need to encourage better people to become the elected representatives and leaders of our country.

Ireland has not radically improved, especially socially, by voting the same people in after every election. The current and previous political establishments have had decades to solve or even improve the A&E trolley crisis, educational underfunding, homelessness, child protection, crime, suicide prevention, corruption and many more serious problems that we rage about until exasperation.

We need to change but we lack the necessary desire and seem content to live in a republic of mediocrity. – Is mise,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – As a blow-in to this country from the London-Irish community, of 21 years’ standing now, I was struck by Fintan O’Toole’s mention of Frances Fitzgerald being “given a standing ovation by the Fine Gael parliamentary party”. It’s an observation that vividly encapsulates all that is good and bad within Ireland’s politics and society.

We are great at rallying around during hard times. God knows we’ve had enough of those! Our innate sense of loyalty to family, friends, colleagues and neighbours is a very fine quality indeed, and one that we should be proud of and seek to maintain.

However, we are also far too slow to recognise when one of our own has erred and needs to hold their hands up. Our politicians could learn from how the British do things in similar circumstances and where resignations are usually much more quickly forthcoming.

Perhaps it is because Ireland is, at heart, an intimate and tribal society in which personal and family bonds are prized above all else, for good or ill. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 7.