Itâ€™ll be a two-tier civil service, and you heard it here first
FIANNA FAIL and its Progressive Democrat partners love big ideas but the problem with the plan to decentralise the civil service is that it is not big enough. The plan, as outlined on budget day, is simply too timid to work effectively. Essentially, the proposal to move eight departments from their existing Dublin base means splitting the civil service in half. It wonâ€™t work.
Forget all the guff about teleconferencing and video-link communications. The senior civil servants who stay in Dublin are destined to become the new elite among the mandarin class while those who opt to move will actually be opting out.
We are sure that Mary Harney, the tanaiste, and Charlie McCreevy, the finance minister, did not intend to create a two-tier civil service but that is what they are going to get. If they were serious about decentralisation they would have given serious thought to moving the entire government apparatus to a new single location outside Dublin, setting up an administrative capital, a proposal we were promoting here some two-and-a-half years ago.
Moving the seat of government is dramatic but not radical. There are plenty of precedents, the most recent being the German governmentâ€™s decision to move its capital from Bonn to Berlin.
By announcing a 10-year plan to shift the seat of power from Dublin to the western seaboard the government would allow adequate time for civil servants to sort out their domestic arrangements.
The advantages to be gained from such a move are obvious. Civil servants are not responsible for creating the pressure points that have blighted the capital but their absence from the equation, together with the multiple support services and other organisations that would follow in their wake, would transform both Dublin and the new administrative capital.
Sadly, it looks like another great opportunity has been missed.
from the business pages of the Sunday Times yesterday....