The 6th May Irish Times editorial “An unholy mess” (concerning the costly debacle of the 2003 Decentralisation political stroke) attempts to give a posthumous pardon to the Progressive Democrats. There is clearly no connection between Madam Editor’s formerly leading role in that party and her current role in the Irish Times!
The opening paragraph of the editorial in question:
ONCE DESCRIBED by the Progressive Democrats in government as representing “gombeen politics”, Fianna Fáil’s enormously wasteful decentralisation programme has finally run out of money and been suspended. At a rough estimate, it has cost a minimum of €360,000 for each of the 2,500 civil and public servants who have been relocated out of Dublin during the past six years. The cost is computed through the sale of €500 million in State property and an additional charge of €400 million for the acquisition of new sites and offices at scores of locations.
In reality, the PDs were fully supportive of that 2003 decentralisation programme and the term “gombeen politics” was most frequently applied to the actions and utterances of Tom Parlon TD; from the erection of “Welcome to Parlon country” signs in his constituency, on the very day on the announcement, to his ongoing performance as chief Govt cheerleader, as junior minister in charge of the OPW, for the decentralisation programme.
The Progressive Democrats were fully supportive of this blatant political scam back on budget day in 2003 when it was pulled, like a rabbit from a hat, by Finance Minister and PD-clone Charlie McCreevy. It was cheered to the rafters by all the occupants of the Govt benches, including the PDs.
That “back of envelope” Decentralisation scam represented a complete sell-out of the stated core principles of the PDs and, utterly compromised, may well have marked the beginning of the end for them.
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