There is an aspect to public life that really depresses me and that is politician’s addiction to big splashy public projects for which they also display a disturbing lack of ability to manage or control. We have already seen clear evidence of this in the case of the Children’s Hospital and now we are confronted by a situation where the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure, Robert Watt, has expressed deep reservations about the National Broadband Plan, even going so far as to suggest the State could be left with an “obsolete asset”. In my view this government has form when it comes to the way in which it regards taxpayer’s money. When they announced the National Development Plan, I was horrified to see the biggest item contained in the plan was Metro Link which is a tram running from the City Centre to Swords. This project is estimated to cost an eye-watering three billion euros. I don’t consider that a proper cost benefit analysis has been done on this project. Now here we go again. In the midst of the Local and European Elections the same politicians are dashing around the countryside telling all who will listen that they are defending the interests of rural Ireland and in exchange for spending billions of your euros all they need is your votes. I watched the Minister for Finance on the Six O’Clock News saying he was going to provide Broadband to a million people. Where did he get that figure from ? Sounds a lot more impressive than just over half a million households.
Tell you what, by my book the Minister for Finance is responsible to the entire nation – rural and urban. He is the guardian of our finances. Facing into an uncertain future he has an absolute responsibility to husband our resources. He also has to have a sense of social responsibility. When this government squanders our resources it is in effect robbing essential services of urgently needed funds, none more graphically illustrated by the appalling conditions at the Mortuary at Waterford Hospital.
In this country it is about time politicians learnt to show real leadership rather than trying to game the system for short term political gain. However, what I would really like to see is politicians stopping wasting money on vast public projects they can’t control.