The recent revelations at Ireland’s state broadcaster, RTÉ, have exposed a deeply dysfunctional organization where communication between executives and the main board is practically non-existent. While there was understandable anger towards the banking system during the noughties, dysfunctional behavior is not exclusive to the private sector. Many public sector organizations have also displayed a knack for dysfunction, and RTÉ is the latest example.
In recent weeks, it has been interesting to see politicians from all parties expressing their concern and outrage over the ongoing fiasco at RTÉ. For some, it has become a blood sport, although I find it difficult to comprehend the fascination. What strikes me as strange is the fact that two Oireachtas committees have been assigned to investigate the root cause of this mess, despite the blatant abuse and misuse of taxpayer money without any apparent consequences. The clips I have seen and heard suggest that politicians are more interested in grandstanding than finding a solution that benefits the public.
Instead of these political theatrics, there should be a proper inquiry led by individuals who understand corporate life, such as the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. What if the same level of passion and concern displayed by politicians over the past few weeks was directed towards the pressing issues facing Irish society today? The housing crisis, which is forcing many young people to either emigrate or live with their parents, should be a top priority. Additionally, the unacceptable waiting lists in our health service, the breakdown of law and order, the lack of progress in alternative energy, and the deficiencies in public transport, including a train connection to the largest airport, all demand urgent attention.
While there are positive aspects of Ireland, such as a thriving labor market and buoyant tax revenues, we must not ignore the potential for improvement. A focus on enhancing the quality of life for as many people as possible is crucial. The ongoing debate about budget surpluses, estimated at €65 billion over the next four years, raises questions about how best to utilize these funds. The establishment of a sovereign wealth fund and a public infrastructure fund are sensible ideas, and it is reassuring that our finance and expenditure ministers are prioritizing issues that directly impact our lives, unlike the grandstanding politicians we have witnessed recently.
However, it is essential to reform the way public spending translates into tangible outcomes. Evidence suggests that many public bodies, such as the HSE and Bord Pleanála, are incapable of delivering the best possible results for society. Despite increased funding for the health service, there is little improvement in outcomes. Growing waiting lists in various medical disciplines are clear indications of this. I am not suggesting that increased spending is unwarranted, especially considering our growing and aging population. However, it is the responsibility of the government and society to ensure that this additional funding does not disappear into a bureaucratic black hole but instead delivers better outcomes and real value for money.