Tuesday, December 02, 2008



The government landed in the shit again last week as revelations of wasteful spending by officials at the state training agency Foras Áiseanna Saothair (FÁS) published by theSunday Independent” rapidly escalated into a scandale celebre resulting in the sudden resignation of the Agency’s Director General, Mr Rody Molloy, and the suspension of another senior official, Mr Greg Craig, prompting an investigation by the Comptroller and Auditor General and the Public Accounts Committee of Dáil Éireann.

Embarrassing details of lavish dining and hotel expenses on several trips to Florida by Ministers and FÁS officials became easy fodder for newspaper headlines. Mr Molloy, in an impromtu interview on RTÉ radio last Monday was perceived by listeners as arrogant and self-satisfied that these “perks” were “entitlements" in his view. The public were aghast to hear of the extravagance of the travel and entertainment allowances amounting to €640,000 and a €76,000 credit limit on Mr Craig’s credit card on one trip alone. The charge of $410 for a hair-do for Minister Harney in Orlando on one of the visits, to the NASA Space Centre as part of a promotion by FÁS involving Irish students in space science projects, immediately became iconic of the whole fiasco and was fair game for the tabloids and an embarrassing scourge for the Government. Having put up a stout defence of Mr Molloy in the Dáil on Monday, Taoiseach Brian, “Biffo”, Cowen was further embarrassed by the peremptory resignation of Mr Molloy within 24 hours ahead of his scheduled appearance before the Oireachtas(Legislature) Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday.

Coming at this time, when the Government is arguing for savage cuts in public spending and following the Budget attempt to withdraw free medical services from over 70’s pensioners, which was defeated by open revolt of the Pensioners last month, these revelations show a Government totally out of touch with reality and the electorate and floundering in a morass of indecision at the highest level and outrageous public scandals concerning the behaviour of Ministers and their top officials over a number of years. The credibility of this Taoiseach and his Government is in shreds. The likelihood of a General Election early next year even before the European and Local Elections is looming ever higher on the political scene. Their hold on power now relies totally on wobbly coalition partners the Green Party, itself in turmoil over its support for the Scrooge Budget and split down the middle over the damnable Lisbon Treaty.

With many more issues of the Scrooge Budget yet unresolved and Farmers and Teachers continuing to demonstrate in towns all over the country, on top of the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s, the Government’s dramatic slide in the opinion polls can give no comfort to the Taoiseach and his Cabinet as they contemplate their fate at the hands of an extremely angry public waiting for their chance at vengeance.

. FearFeasa Mac Léinn

Áth Cliath/DUBLIN, 02 December/Nollaig 2008.