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How do we improve the permanent government?

  • 04-02-2022 4:44pm
    Registered Users Posts: 6,145 ✭✭✭ Cluedo Monopoly

    I am usually allergic to FF TDs but I admire John McGuinness because of the way he stood up for Maurice McCabe during the senior Garda witchhunt.

    I heard an interview with McGuinness last week and he brought up some interesting points. We are all quick to blame politicians but we also need to look at the underlying support structures and their accountability.

    John McGuinness: Who is really in charge of running the country? (

    Real power lies within the civil service, but it needs a radical overhaul to make it into an efficient body that benefits the country, writes John McGuinness

    Senior civil servants, well-remunerated for the work they do, cannot be named, shamed, or blamed for the advice they give, or the projects they manage. That’s what ministers are there for! 

    How ridiculous is that in this day and age? Highly-paid and pensioned civil and public servants are unlike anyone else in employment in our country — they are faceless and blameless. Ministers, who are paid less and dependant on civil service advice, are responsible.

    That is not good governance. It is neither sensible, transparent, nor accountable. It has to stop, which should start with the reform of the 1924 Ministers and Secretaries Act which allows it. Our country cannot continue to bear the cost of what is now a huge impediment to speedy progress and effective management of our country.

    The civil and public service needs a more proactive, efficient, accountable, and transparent mindset.

    So how can we reform the permanent government and who has the courage to do so?



  • Registered Users Posts: 6,145 ✭✭✭ Cluedo Monopoly

    Given the lack of responses from that party faithful you'd have to conclude that people are a long way from recognising this huge problem and even longer away from trying to fix it.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 16,720 ✭✭✭✭ Donald Trump

    It's not fair to make such a big issue over the fact that civil servants are "well-remunerated for the work they do". That's not fair on them at all.

    Don't forget that they are also well-remunerated for the work they don't do!

  • let's have everyone's bonafides along with their opinions. concerned citizens all, motivated only by purety of thought and heart, yeah?

    the funny thing about a civil service, operating as it does as the professional arm of enacting and advising on policy, is that it does serve a role in what might be seen as hampering elected officials who can be appointed to a role with zero experience whatsoever of with a half interest in anything beyond their next appointment or election.

    say nothing of departments who must deliver services regardless of the party in government, or do people really think that we need full stop and reverse power to switch the entire direction of legislation, structure, human resources, operations, strategies (most of which run longer than terms of governments because guess what lads things must carry on even of your own preferred candidates didn't get in this time) with every new formation of government?

    find me a firm of equivalent size that switches strategies on a sixpence like that with any sort of long term success- and while you come up with that list I'll go through it (it will be short) and I'll tell you why even then the business of public administration doesn't work that way

    now it might be argued given all the above that stability and continuity resides to a large extent in the civil service, as things should be

    for a given value of "unaccountable" I'd need to know what levels of accountability the posters using it know of in the service and what levels and mechanisms they would propose and international comparisons for same- leat they be I dunno accused of just flinging out pub talk

    TDs and political advisors running the country? at the behest of McGuiness?

    ye are essentially begging for PJ Mara back

    always good to chat though

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  • Registered Users Posts: 443 ✭✭ TP_CM

    Voters and the media are the two main things which keep politicians on their toes. At the moment, I'm not liking how cosy the media are getting with the government. They need to challenge them a bit more. Particularly with justice and crime and troublesome youths. The government has a habit of saying they don't have much control over situations but look what they've done over the past 2 years. They've a hell of a lot more control than they're letting on and I wish they'd be pushed more on it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 21,882 ✭✭✭✭ Podge_irl

    Sorry, but are we living in some kind of alternate reality where leveraging contacts isn't insanely prevalent in the private sector?

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  • You're being overly aggressive. I didn't say that having contacts or influence had replaced the recruitment process, or that skills/education/experience wasn't relevant. I said, that based on those I've spoken to, both family and friends, they've spoken of the advantages of knowing people within the public service, and that nepotism is fairly common within many departments.

    Argue against what I said.. don't argue against an angle that wasn't put forward.

    Fair enough.. I'm not dismissing what you've said. I haven't worked in the public service, and am simply basing this on what I've heard from others.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,671 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    Angrily defensive? That's neither angry or defensive. Just putting out some facts there.

    There are absolutely lots of things that need to be improved across the public service, but the level of discourse around here is so far distant from actually understanding what is happening today, it is never going to near a constructive approach for improvement.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,389 ✭✭✭ billyhead

    He or she probably means a phone call is made and a slip of paper is passed to or a quiet conversation is had with the Chair or member of an interview board.

  • From what I gathered the interview board only determines if someone meets the general/technical requirements for the position, and that selection of those who had passed the interview/examination, would happen at a different level, and that's where having someone put in a good word comes into play. The other aspect of nepotism was in relation to inter-departmental promotions, of people who were already working there, and having those contacts would help in being chosen for limited positions.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,671 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    You'll have no way of knowing who the Chair of interview board will be, to make that call. And if you did find out, you'll be taking a very big gamble that the Chair isn't the kind of person to tell you to go and sh1te, and get the candidate kicked out for canvassing.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,671 ✭✭✭✭ AndrewJRenko

    The interview board, and solely the interview board, makes the yes/no decision and scores the candidate. The scoring will decide what order positions will be offered.

    There is nowhere for a good word to come into play.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,432 ✭✭✭ crossman47