A mathematician, an accountant and an public relations manager apply for the same job…
The interviewer calls in the mathematician and asks “What do two plus two equal?” The mathematician replies “Four.” The interviewer asks “Four, exactly?” The mathematician looks at the interviewer incredulously and says “Yes, four, exactly.”
Then the interviewer calls in the accountant and asks the same question “What do two plus two equal?” The accountant says “On average, four – give or take ten percent, but on average, four.”
Finally, the interviewer calls in the PR manager and poses the same question “What do two plus two equal?”
The PR manager gets up, locks the door, closes the shade, sits down next to the interviewer and says, “What do you want it to equal”?
When Leo Varadkar was Minister for Social Protection he said that there should not be refunds for those who paid water charges. He also added that those who did not pay should be pursued. Now, as Taoiseach, he wants us all to engage in collective memory loss as he rebrands himself into Santa Leo.
Santa Leo is promising Christmas bonuses to all the little good boys and girls. Refunds, that he said he wouldn’t do, are going to cost €170,000,000 and an estimated €10,000,000 to process it.
So that’s a €180,000,000 humiliation for Fine Gael that is to be spun as a Ho Ho Ho Christmas Holiday present of “three hundred odd euro back” per household.
Great news for those “two thirds of people” who obeyed the law and paid their Irish Water bills. Three hundred euro is not to be sniffed at.
Well played Leo, everyone will forget your previous guff about pursuing non-payers and you get to turn your democratic defeat into a political win. At least you would do, if you’re figures weren’t as unreliable as your proclamations. Just a cursory exploration of the facts exposes the flaws.
Firstly, Irish Water only took in €165,120,680 and not €170,000,000. Irish Water was responsible for 1,700,000 households, when applicable they billed 1,522,000 of these.
At their peak, Irish Water say 989,000 people were paying; that’s 58% of households and not the 66% claimed by government.
Even using this 989,000 figure is problematic; to refund this many households “three hundred odd euro” back would cost the exchequer €296,700,000.
There’s either a €126,700,000 hole in their sums, or they still aren’t telling the truth about how many people were paying and how much had been paid.
Taking the €300 refund amount to be true, then we can estimate that only 566,666 households paid up. That’s one third of the 1,700,000 households. A figure only slightly above the 30% figure claimed by that “lefty looney” Paul Murphy.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, this doesn’t really matter. After destroying the Labour Party and bringing Fine Gael to its knees Water Charges are dead. Not to mention the real crises of housing and hospital waiting lists; true emergencies that require immediate responses.
But that’s sort of the point.
A Taoiseach who quotes bogus stats on a dead issue like Water Charges is not credible when he quotes stats on new housing builds or hospital waiting lists.
A Taoiseach that has hired a separate office to manage his own Public Relations is a Taoiseach who needs more scrutiny than any to have ever held the office before.
Remember, this is a government that when they failed to meet their goal of patients not waiting over 24 hours in an A&E Department decided that, rather than redouble their efforts, they’d simply change the goal to say that patients over 75 would not be waiting over 24 hours.
This is the government that claimed there had been 15,000 new homes built in 2016, when the real figure was closer to 3,500. In Cork alone the government’s figure of 287 was a shameful 21.
This is why it Santa Leo and the €300 matters. A government that holds to data that is disproven cannot be expected to solve real crises. Flat earther economics is not going to build houses. PR soundbites won’t stop winter flu.
We know, looking around our dinner tables, that hospital waiting lists are rocketing towards 750,000. The people who get up early in the morning in homeless hubs know that 2 + 2 = 4. No amount of PR media spin is going to make it otherwise. Santa Claus is not real.
(BTW There’s a Inner City Helping Homeless, No Place to Sleep, Public Meeting on Wednesday the 16th of August, at 7:30. 72 Amien Street, Dublin 1.)
Tony Groves is a full-time financial consultant and part-time commentator. With over 18 years experience in the financial industry and a keen interest in politics, history and “being ornery”, he has published one book and writes regularly at Trickstersworld
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Queen’s University, Belfast this morning
At Queen’s University in Belfast.
Leo Varadkar gave a speech during his first official visit to Northern Ireland since becoming Taoiseach.
After giving a speech he agreed to take questions from the floor.
One woman (second from the right pictured above) asked Mr Varadkar:
“Taoiseach, on the topic of North/South relations, we know that students from the Republic of Ireland study here and vice versa. Students have a very proud history of advocating social justice issues, as seen in the marriage equality referendum on May 22, 2015 – something you are a strong advocate for north and south of the border and we thank you for your solidarity at Belfast Pride tomorrow.
“Recently you announced your intention to run various referenda over the next 18 months beginning in June or July. The referendum on the 8th amendment is especially pertinent for students north and south of the border.
“As we all know a high percentage of students travel or work abroad over the summer. Do you agree with us that, in order to fully engage students, this referendum should be held outside of the summer months?”
Mr Varadkar replied:
“Thanks very much. It’s a good question, I haven’t been asked that one yet. It is, we have a process that we’ve agreed involving a Citizens’ Assembly, involving a Oireachtas all-party parliamentary committee but what we’re planning for is a referendum probably May or June of next year.
“It’s not as straightforward as just having a referendum, we have to have wording legislation, a referendum commission and a campaign. So, if we don’t have it before the summer then it’ll probably not happen until the latter part of the year.
“So we haven’t set a date yet. We have had referendums in June before. I think the Good Friday Agreement was a June referendum, if I remember correctly. So was the Fiscal Treaty and we’ve had elections in June as well.
“But I definitely take the point and get the message that younger people would like to have the referendum happen at a time when they’re in the country so that they can fully participate. So we will absolutely take that into account in setting a date.”
TV3 said last night that when interviewing Mr Varadkar, Browne would take the opportunity to ask the Taoiseach about his plans for his time in office and what he meant by vowing to represent “people who get up early in the morning”, as well as Brexit. The programme is broadcast from 11pm.
From top: Vice piece on Leo Varadkar; tweets from Fine Gael Councillors Sharon Tolan and Andrew Duncan; Megan Noalan
Concerned Observer writes:
Just thought you might be interested in the furore on social media the past day or so.
Excellent Irish writer Megan Nolan wrote a piece for Vice dealing with some of Leo’s recent public appearances:
As is par for course at this point, two councillors tied to our valiant protectors against violence and internet bullying…proceeded to mock her supposed mental health issues because they didn’t like the content of the article, and its criticism of our Dear Leader….
“It started with politicians. It started with a Labour minister a few hours after the protest, saying it was false imprisonment. It was followed by the Taoiseach saying that it was kidnapping. It was followed by the now Taoiseach saying it was thuggery. It was followed by our lost colleague Noel Coonan describing it as the same as Isis, and it was echoed by large sections of the media.”
“Now Taoiseach, politicians, not courts, politicians have to deal with the consequences. If you believe it’s serious chance, as there is, that the gardai gave false evidence on the stand, will you accept that we have to have an independent, public inquiry.”
In response, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says:
“Deputy, you had a fair trial. It went on for nine weeks. Your peers heard both sides of the case, the prosecution and the defence and they reviewed the evidence and they acquitted you of false imprisonment. You’re not a victim here…”