Irish Examiner Has Made Itself the Sworn Enemy of Public Sector Workers


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Everyone knows the Irish Examiner is a Fine Gael newspaper and everyone equally knows that even if Fianna Fail is being obnoxious about public sector workers, Fine Gael would be even worse.  The incessant cry from FG over the past two years has been for the savaging of the sector.  ‘More! More!’ they scream like a mob braying for the burning of a bewildered woman suddenly accused of being a witch.

Accordingly the editorials and commentary in the Examiner have almost without exception come down in favour of cuts in welfare and pay of the lowest paid in society, one way or another.  Fergus Finlay (the nearest thing to a working class columnist the paper has) has generally been suggesting it’s all a matter of style rather than of substance and that had the government only gone about the same strategy differently the hoi poloi wouldn’t be as upset as they are.

Why in the name of God does the Government need a report to tell it what is both the right thing to do and the strategic thing to do? If this Government had been ruthless about top pay – especially its own, and especially the bonuses that some senior managers have been offered – and if they had been ruthless right from the beginning, people throughout the country would have been far more willing to follow them.
(Read more.)

In any case Finlay has now declared himself against strikes which begs the question of the former Labour Party spokesperson: how the hell do we get these liars and thieves to take us seriously otherwise? Asking them nicely has never worked before, it isn’t working now and the main opposition parties have abandoned us all by signing up to what are essentially identical economic policies, despite all the sympathetic rhetoric.   Speaking on The Frontline while in Dublin recently Noam Chomsky stated an obvious fact: no government has ever conceded any point of democracy or fairness without being forced to do so by the people themselves.  Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore has already stated categorically that he will do nothing to change the outrageous and almost certainly criminal NAMA legislation if Labour are elected to government.  That alone tells us everything we need to know about the pointlessness of voting for Labour.

In recent weeks Examiner columnist and fomer FG front bencher Ivan Yates has been shrilly defending subsidies to horse racing while demanding the evisceration of the public sector.  He has even implied that these subsidies might help reduce the soaring male suicide rate.

Today, the paper is palpably afraid that the flooding crisis ably demonstrates who it is the country has to turn to when real rather than recklessly induced disaster strikes: the very people whose pay, pensions and welfare are to be targetted within a few weeks.   Flooding ‘washes away sympathy for strike’ claims the headline over the editorial.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is public sector workers who have been working night and day to deal with the effects on people of the failures of government and environmental management as much as of the weather itself.   Incredibly, the Examiner editorial accuses the unions of selfishness at this time of crisis, even though emergency service members have already said they will not strike in the affected areas.

Not to be outdone for viciousness by any editorial writer, Terry Prone, predictably, is in on the act.  We’ve written about Prone before: she of the sumptuous salaries at public sector expense who has been selling the lie of Fianna Fail’s Cletic Tiger economic ‘miracle’ more than any other.    Lest anybody should begin to notice just how tirelessly and selflessly professional public sector workers have been coping with the flood disaster, Prone is desperate to insist it is really the smiling and laughing,  volunteer tea and sandwich makers who are the heroes of the hour.  Not that anyone wants to diminish their undoubted and considerable contribution but there’s that divisive theme again: public sector v volunteer; public sector v private sector – the former always coming off worse than the latter, however they are paired for comparison purposes – as if professionally trained people’s skills were superfluous and their lesser motives a given.  Prone invites us to consider the joyous liberation of being dispossessed of homes and possessions to free us up for real camaraderie and pulling together.  Never mind the destroyed and damaged homes, the lost businesses, the likelihood of dole queue living for many people as a consequence of the flood – think of all the fun it will be while our betters get on with fleecing us of any vestige of hope or the wherewithall to edcuate our children decently or even to survive.  Prone’s latest article can be read here.

And speaking of dole queues, Prone was last week bending her talents to working some class distinction into them.  Apparently there are those like her pinstripe-suited friend who are the more deserving poor and who should queue up early in the mroning to avoid those who she says wear ‘pyjamas’ and tend to queue later in the day.  Oh and apparently last time we all had to emigrate because of similarly induced financial mismanagement, we were doing it ‘for fun’.   On top of all of this offensive nonsense, Prone is also trying to make out that there is a need for a similar response to the economic crisis as to the flooding crisis.  Not on your well pampered nelly, there is not, Terry.  It’s no act of God that brought economic disaster on us but the continuing greed and ruthless incompetence of our government and the eocnomic system whose altar they worship at.  It is not just about pay and cuts that we will strike but to make these out of control oligarchs and their political prostitutes  realise that the game they are playing with our futures is doomed.  We’re not putting up with it any longer.  Most of us always knew it was bullshit anyway but it is time now for us take over from the delinquents who are running the show and replace them with adults who will govern according to the wishes and needs of the majority.   Striking is the first step along the way until they come to their senses.   Contrary to what the likes of Prone and others are spinning furiously in the media, it is not the public sector who are going through the five stages of grief or who are playing the ‘blame game’, it is the government itself which is in deep denial and is lashing out at the electorate in anger.

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17 Responses

  1. Enda Maguire

    November 27, 2009 1:19 am

    It’s not exactly news that the media are anti public service – rte, the Irish/ Sunday Independent (which are blatant Fianna Fail papers), etc.

  2. Miriam Cotton

    November 27, 2009 11:04 am

    It’s not exactly news that it’s not exactly news the media are anti public sector workers. Neither is it exactly news that capitalism is destroying us all but we still go on criticising and commenting on it nevertheless. In fact, there is nothing that is exactly news about any of what is happening by the same token. Should we therefore just shut up about it all or should we continue to try to expose and challenge it for what it is?

  3. Bernadette Keegan

    November 27, 2009 2:09 pm

    I have written to our THIEFSHOCK on a couple of occasions pointing out that my HUGH monthly take home as a public servant is approximately €1,300 ans asking him why I have to support him, his colleagues and banks who earn so much more than I. I suggested several ways costs could be cut without affecting our salaries yet again. I cannot take another financial hit, or I will be better off on the dole with free ‘everything on the state’ to boot. The only replies I received are from his office to tell me this will be brought to his attention as soon as possible. The first message I sent was now 8 weeks ago and I still await his reply.
    One of my comments to him was for him to remember the French Revolution – right now, we the Irish pesants have had enough too.
    Bernadette Keegan

  4. Tim O'Flynn

    November 27, 2009 10:50 pm

    There isn’t one person in this country who doesn’t rely on the public service for basic necessities like healthcare and education – so why so much contempt for them in the media? – days of in Newry, etc..

  5. Philip Nolan

    November 27, 2009 11:11 pm

    I quite like the Examiner and don’t think that its fair to target just that publication. Its hard to find an Irish newspaper (or radio/ tv current affairs programme) which values analysis of the facts more than expressing the opinions of the editor/ owners. Independent newspapers are outstanding in this regard. I would love to see that featured here.


  6. John Burns

    November 27, 2009 11:23 pm

    sick of having to defend my role as a public servant to those who think that I should be their unpaid or at least lowly paid servant.

  7. M Williams

    November 28, 2009 12:33 am

    So lets do something about it, maybe write letters to the \’sworn enemy\’ rather than just leaving messages here..

  8. C.G. Lynch

    November 28, 2009 12:42 pm

    Start looking at the bigger picture and think of the children – the ones who will ultimately pay for our current mess… Fine if you don’t want pay cuts but the money just isn’t there so give us some viable alternatives (redundancies? Pay freeze? Performance related increments?) Benchmarking was a great deal for the public sector but was not linked to job productivity or performance which was very bad for this country. It was surprising that you lefty types didn’t highlight this at the time… or did the allure of the € temper your ideals?

  9. Conor McCabe

    November 29, 2009 9:59 am

    That’s a lot of thunder coming out of your arse there C.G. So, explain to me how taking more money out of a shrinking economy makes it better. 70% of Irish businesses are non-export. you cut wages – and the assault on public sector pay is only the opening salvo on a wage war – and who’s going to buy the stuff to keep those businesses ticking over?

    We are spending 56 billion to bail out 310 property speculators and you think that cutting pay in a shrinking economy is going to save our children?

    There’s a scene in the Simpsons where Homer is made management, and his great innovation is to give the workers more tartar sauce. burns goes, “excellent, let the fools have their tartar sauce.” All you’re giving here are fallacious arguments drummed up by the very editors Miriam is talking about. you’re swimming in tartar sauce, my friend. Hope you like it. It’s all you have to offer our children.

  10. G.C. Lynch

    November 29, 2009 8:57 pm

    Conor, of course you’re right regarding developers and banks – that money could’ve been much better spent. However, now that it has been spent (or at least the cheques have been written) we even have to be a lot more careful about who gets the tartar sauce. After years of serving it by the owl we now have to .

    We’ve already given out very generous fish supper portions with little extra in return (e.g. increased efficiency and flexibility).

    Times are tough now and resources limited. If current public pay levels are to sustainable then the sector must respond by being more efficient (simple example: allow transfer of workers from over staffed to understaffed functions – something which is currently difficult) and a willingness to recognise the value of their job safety compared with their less fortunate neighbours.

    As for those taking more than their fair share of sauce… feed them to the fish 🙂

  11. G.C. Lynch

    December 1, 2009 12:33 am

    We save the 4billion (+ lots more) which will hopefully satisfy our lenders and keep the IMF at bay.

    Then continue to borrow but use the money saved to improve infrastructure (in no particular order):

    * Build/ improve schools

    * Sort out our flooding problems…

    * Invest in public transport

    * Electricity grid upgrades to support easier integration of renewable energy sources.

    * High speed broadband data communications networks available to all.

    Lots of people would be employed to make these improvements. This employment would then be sustained by the business and investment opportunities facilitated by our new modern infrastructure.

    Of course this would all be easier if we kept some of the money being wasted on keeping non-viable banks in their dodgy business of ripping people off.

  12. G.C. Lynch

    December 1, 2009 12:39 am

    I suppose the point is, borrowing to build a better infrastructure and increase employment makes sense (especially now that costs are lower), but borrowing to fund a public service without making it more efficient makes no sense..

  13. Lisa Murphy

    December 9, 2009 2:01 pm

    The government and the media have succeeded in turning the majority of those outside of the public sector against all of us in the public sector. I am a teacher, I feel so under attack at the moment, even my private sector friends who laughed at my salary during the boom have now turned on me because of ‘my job security’. I did not resent these (private sector) friends during the boom years when they were earning double and in some cases triple my salary, buying second and third properties. Why? Because I chose my vocation and chose long term job security over the much higher salary that I could have earned in the private sector. Therefore why should I now be attacked for this?
    Teaching – a ‘bad job good times’ , a ‘good job bad times’.
    Brian Cowen has destroyed our country – his reward approx €230,000 salary a year (after a pay cut). I have no blame for the state of our country in fact I have continued to make a positive contribution every year and what is my reward – a pensions levy on a pension that I already pay for and have being paying for (every month) for the last 10 years, in addition to an income levy and later today another 5% cut to my salary.
    Shame on Brian Cowen, shame on Fianna Fail and shame on all of those outside of the public sector that think this is fair and have turned against us – the very people who are relying on us to educate their children and prepare them for their future lives and careers. If I was a waitress I might get a tip for excellent service, as a teacher I get no tip or thanks for doing a good job but I accept this, it is the career I chose. What I do not accept is being attacked for being a public sector worker nor do I accept being told that I am not even worth my wages. How can I motivate my students when I can no longer motivate myself???? The injustice is killing me.