Ahern remains delusional

19 October, 2011

Apparently the press is to blame for the collapse of the Irish economy.  At least that appears to be the latest line being spun by Bertie Ahern.  Unbelievable. You couldn’t make it up.  See details of an interview with our dodgy, delusional, and disgraced former Taoiseach here.

A flavour of his ramblings:-

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has called for an investigation into the media for what he said were failures to follow the economy because journalists were more concerned with following his dealings with the Mahon tribunal.

Mr Ahern said that from the time he began evidence to the tribunal, the media “just stopped following the economy”.

In an interview on Dublin City University’s radio station DCU FM, he said: “There should be an investigation into it. They should have been following the economy from August 2007, but they weren’t, they were following me. I think a lot of these guys really should have looked at themselves.

“The government were following the economy but the media weren’t. It was a very poor job by the media really. They were shown to be incompetent and that was the trouble – everything was on me.”

When will he ever recognise that the ultimate responsibility for the well-being of citizens came with the job of being Taoiseach, and it wasn’t just about lining his own pocket and being nice to his developer pals?  Trying to deflect responsibility to the media for our economic problems is beyond a joke.

Please, Bertie, get off the stage.

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I recall that an actuary once calculated that the capital value of the extremely generous pension benefits that Bertie Ahern was entitled to was €7 million.  The figure was particularly relevant at the time because the Government has just introduced a cap of €5 million for the private sector as the maximum value that could be funded out of tax-relieved contributions.  So that’s one law for the super-rich Bertie, a different law for the merely adequately rich private sector punter.

People who work in the public sector don’t seem to understand the huge capital value attaching to an index-linked defined-benefit pension, and the impact on that capital value of moving retirement age down even a few years.  I suspect this ignorance was a factor in the Richie Boucher pension fiasco recently: Finance Minister Lenihan signed off on a deal allowing Boucher to retire at 55, never dreaming that the real financial impact of this was €1.5 million.  Our leader (sic) Brian Cowen compounded matters by trying to deceive the Dáil and the public about what was really happening in the Boucher pension saga.

Same with the Roddy Molloy pension enhancement.  Molloy resigned from Fás after Tánaiste Mary Coughlan sweetened the exit package by adding five years to his pensionable service, and this outrageous gift was rubber stamped by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan.  All hell broke loose (and rightly so) when it transpired that the value of this gift to the disgraced Molloy was €1.4 million.  

Politicians just don’t seem to understand what the real cost of public sector pensions is.  But not only politicians; almost all public sector employees are blissfully unaware of what a pot of gold awaits them. 

I suggest that every public servant should be given an annual statement showing (a) the projected actuarial value of his/her accrued pension at normal retirement date, as a capital sum, together with (b) a statement of the effective contribution rate needed to generate that capital sum, as a percentage of salary.  This would show just how valuable their pension benefits really are compared to the modest contribution they are asked to make, and might help get their thinking straight.

I would go further: all politicians’ pensions should be put onto a defined contribution basis immediately, with (say) a contribution of no more than 10% of salary made annually.  Maybe then they would have a bit more empathy with private sector workers, and would be more careful in signing off on pension increments to rich bankers and dodgy semi-state directors.

Bertie’s Buke

7 January, 2010

I see lots of comment in the media and the blogosphere about Bertie getting artists’ tax exemption for his autobiography (sic) – Bertie Ahern: The Autobiography.

Something else: the cover photograph on the buke. Is Bertie normally tie-less? What is this mode of (un)dress saying? I’m a cool guy who doesn’t have to wear a tie any more? I’m a regular Dub who wouldn’t wear a tie unless he had to? I’m a rich geezer now so I’ll dress as I damn well like?

Just wondering. I don’t often wear a tie myself, but Bertie looks odd in this particular photo without one.

Maybe he’s getting used to this style – they don’t allow prisoners to wear ties in jail as far as I know.