Fintan is in top form (sub. req.) in today’s Irish Times. I agree with him, the sheer scale and cost of decentralisation is to say the least, ill-considered. But this is coming from an incompetent Fianna Fail/PD coalition, who seem incapable of doing just about anything without making a balls of it.
What becomes clear when you read the report is that this is a classic Fianna Fáil operation, in that it appeals vaguely to a broad swathe of the population and sharply to an insider elite.
The plain people of the provinces will see it as a great benefit screwed out of the Dublin 4 establishment by their local chieftains. At the same time there will be a huge bonanza for the real establishment, including the little inner circle of property developers that has a special place in the Government’s heart.
Ah those property tycoons, you gotta love ’em. But what problems could possibly arise from sending all these civil servants down the country? Fintan thinks along the following lines:
The fact that 41 of the 53 new locations are not listed in the National Spatial Strategy as focal points for development is a symptom of the ludicrous inability to co-ordinate policies. The solution? Fragment things even more. Have your civil servants clocking up mileage allowances travelling between BIM in Cavan and the Department of the Marine in Clonakilty, Garda HQ in Thurles and Justice in Dublin, or Bus Éireann in Mitchelstown and the Department of Transport in Dublin. Have eight Ministers and their advisers working many miles away from the Dáil.
But it makes perfect sense if you remember the Government’s deep and abiding affection for the property development industry. When you read the Implementation Report the outlines of the great gold rush appear. The scope for private enrichment is massive.
‘Ah’ some might say, ‘a conspiracy theory!’. But no, I have a feeling Fintan is right on this one. From the people who brought you ‘100% accurate e-voting’ comes decentralisation for profit. Is there anything more we should worry about?
All State data processing will be done in two new centres owned and operated privately. This astonishing notion raises its own fears, especially since reassurances that security will be watertight will come from the Government that brought us the e-voting debacle.
The banks will make big profits from financing these operations. The developers will pass on these costs to the taxpayer and will receive, in return, guaranteed State tenants who can’t move out for political reasons.
There will of course be “an open tendering process, consistent with national and EU procurement rules” just like there was in that other great McCreevy project at Punchestown. Ask the old question cui bono – who benefits? – and the whole thing starts to make sense.
Cui bono indeed. That little project in Punchestown was such a great thing, as was the allocation of National Lottery monies to Minister’s constituencies. Poor old John ‘Sporty’ O’Donoghue got quite upset on the radio last week at suggestions that he may have gotten special treatment because he was high up the ranks of Fianna Fail.
What a banana republic we all live in.