I have never been to Leitrim, I’m sure it’s lovely. Despite the fact I have never met a single soul from Leitrim, I’m pretty sure it exists.
You never hear of anyone talk about Leitrim or meet anyone that’s actually been there. Its one of those things that just exists and we take for granted, like religion or porn.
Some good work done by the Irish Examiner in this – article , reveals the annual salary of the Leitrim County manager is €132,511. County Leitrim’s population is 31,778 according to the last census. The Russian prime minister earns €87,184 annually and Russia’s population is 141 million people. Some people may say – hey, Russia is a bit backward? But Leitrim only got its first set of traffic lights in 2004. Rumours that the system of bartering is still legal currency prevails.
The county engineer in Mayo for example, earns a basic salary of €90,453. That is more than the prime minister of Spain. I have nothing against Mayo people, I think every house should have one. But how about we take Mariano Rajoy Brey, the Prime Minister of Spain, make him county manager in Mayo. While we are at it, we may make him county manager of their GAA team. In fairness he wouldn’t be the first politician to take charge of a county team, and seeing how some of the Spanish Armada washed up there he should feel right at home. That’s why some Mayo folk look like Mexicans. A prime minster of Spain for 90k – and as the current county manger is paid 142k, hey presto a saving of 52k.
Hello… County Carlow, where the county manager earns a yearly salary of €132,511 and his chief vet earns €94,392. Now I know Carlow is the kind of place where the men are men and the sheep are nervous, but does the vet really need to be earning over 90k?
Here is a thought: we should swap the Carlow manager for the prime minister of India. They love their cows and monkeys in India also. It makes perfect sense. Population of Carlow 54,532. The population of India is 1.2 billion.
Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of India, earns just over €3,100 per annum, that saves us a grand total of €129,000. I know people are thinking he wont be able to understand their accents. A minor inconvenience for a man who has the use of nuclear weapons in his current post if he so needs them.
So why are we paying the county managers of a tiny little country vast salaries by most international standards? Because for some reason in their tiny little minds – Fianna Fail bandied about the myth that we needed the best brains in our civil service, so we had to pay the best salaries……
They say the biggest trick ever pulled was the devil convincing us he did not exist. I disagree. The biggest trick ever pulled was – the public service unions convincing us they were lower paid than their private sector counter parts. Benchmarking and social partnership, trade unions told us, would fix this gross injustice of reprehensible proportions. In truth it was a sham, as is gone into in some detail in this article .
This is why we have the county manager of Leitrim whose yearly salary is more than those of the prime ministers of Russia, Spain, and the most of Europe.
I’m not saying county managers are stupid – no, no, some have been quite clever and retired early. For their patriotism, and loyal service to the country, they were paid off handsomely under current rules that were brought in under Fianna Fail once they retired. See the eye-watering amounts some of those patriots were paid off with in another piece done by The Irish Examiner here . At the moment legislation is making its way through the Dail to scrap these payments.
County managers are only accountable to the Minister for the Environment. These quasi-judicial minor princes ultimately call the shots in local authorities. Councillors need them for favours. When a councillor wants street lighting and conference money – he goes to the county manager. When he wants a life guard for the pothole that’s so deep people may actually drown – he goes to the county manager. This is how local government works. The county manager holds the purse strings, so councillors have to kowtow to fix their area’s problems.
And I could go on and on….Swapping some county managers for prime ministers from around the world is not such a bad idea after all, I think. It would certainly be cheaper and they would certainly be more effective.
The main problem with civil servants – especially high ranking ones in Ireland, is as George S. Patton said – “A civil servant is sometimes like a broken cannon – it won’t work and you can’t fire it”