Make your mind up, Mary

19 October, 2009

Last Thursday, the Irish Times reported Minister for Health Mary Harney as saying that Professor Drumm’s proposed €70,000 bonus was in respect of 2007, not 2008, but that she accepted there could be some confusion as it was being discussed in the context of 2009.

She said the economic situation had clearly changed, but the decision to grant Prof Drumm a bonus was entirely a matter for the HSE board, in which she had total faith. “They take their responsibilities seriously and they made a determination in the context of the contract that applied to 2007,” she said. “The last thing we need is a meddlesome Minister getting involved in contractual issues around individuals. That would be very unsatisfactory in my department as it would be in any other.”

What amused me was that she then went on to that  no bonuses would be paid for 2008 or 2009.  But how does she know this, if such matters are “entirely a matter for the HSE board”, and she doesn’t intend to interfere?    Looks like another example of a politician wanting to have it both ways.  It’s disappointing to see this coming from somebody who normally isn’t afraid to tell it like it is.

I don’t begrudge Professor Drumm a bonus for what is possibly the worst job in Ireland.  The amount involved is miniscule compared to the cost to the taxpayer of Bertie Ahern’s weakness in agreeing that would be no forced redundancies when the HSE was set up several years ago by merging various Health Boards.  Not to mention the awkward question as to what are all the staff in the Department of Health doing now that responsibility for so many matters has been transferred to the HSE?

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