The Chairman of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure, Colm McCarthy, expressed astonishment, pleasant surprise and delight at the positive impact of the recommendations in his report, the synergies made possible by the recent reunification of Ireland, the relocation of the Oireachtas to Stormont and the nation’s readmission to the Commonwealth.
The island’s dormant development agencies are also to be revitalised, according to a joint announcement yesterday by An Taoiseach, Peter Robinson TD, An Tánaiste, Martin McGuinness MP, MLA and the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Sammy Wilson.
The existing multiplicity of economic development agencies are to be disbanded and a new centralised agency established. It will be known as the Royal Industrial Development Executive (RIDE) and is to be headquartered at Fr Seán Fortune House, Culaville, Co Armagh. RIDE will have overall responsibility for the island’s industrial development effort and prosperity.
Shannon Development, which has been unable to function effectively following the mothballing of Shannon Airport in the late 1990’s and the subsequent obsolescence of Morse Code, will now have special responsibility for industrial development in the Bogside and Waterside districts of Co. Londonderry. It is currently examining several technology transfer opportunities with clients in Zimbabwe, Pyongyang, Havana and Afghanistan.
The mandate of Údurás na Gaelteachta is to be extended to Baile Andersun, Ardoyne and other Gaelic-speaking areas of West Belfast. Mary-Lou McDonald is to become its chief executive. She will operate from its Clifden headquarters and is to be provided with a Harley Davidson motorcycle instead of a traditional Lada to save money.
The Government is anxious that RIDE will have a dynamic, visionary chief executive supported by a small, effective and relevant board of directors. In keeping with its new spirit of parity of esteem, the board will be selected by The Equality Authority and comprise two former terrorists (one from the former Republic of Ireland and one from what was formerly Northern Ireland), one evangelical clergyman, the son of a Roman Catholic bishop and two innocent victims of terrorism, one a Protestant and the other a Roman Catholic. Mr McGuinness emphasised that the new board must include among its members persons who have strong commercial and financial credentials, even if this expertise was gained in gun running, money laundering, tiger kidnapping, tax-evasion by bank directors’, concealing directors’ loans, racketeering, extortion and drug smuggling. “We must use all the talents available. There will be no glass ceilings or closed doors in Culaville. Parity of esteem must not be seen as mere tokenism”, he hissed as he waved a crutch in his right hand.
The new chief executive is likely to be a Muslim and the leading candidate has undertaken to host a special social function in Limerick and greet her staff personally each Christmas and at the conclusion of Ramadan, rather than through her male secretary’s e-mail, which had been the tradition in the former development agencies of Saorstát Éireann. The 1,100 staff of the new agency will consist of not less than 75 grades, all grades doing equivalent work but each enjoying unique working hours, holiday entitlements and expense account regimes. This will enable them rehearse frequently with their flute band – which is being established as a shared service that will play at both Protestant and Roman Catholic funerals. Staff will not have job titles, or a job definition. Annual merit awards will be determined at a top-secret séance conducted in a 4-berth caravan outside Drumcree parish church each November. Recipient of merit awards will be notified discreetly by MI5. White Toyota Hiace vans (well, a million knackers can’t be wrong!) and former troop personnel carriers will be used to ferry visiting businessmen around the country. Particular attention will be paid to staff communications. Recognising the critical importance of keeping staff totally ignorant of ongoing developments that concern them, the traditional purple shroud of secrecy will be maintained as will avoidance of all social eye-contact, personal rapport or rapprochement between servants and their masters. Emergency information maybe obtained from the top shelf of any Tesco store.
Gender balance in state agencies is no longer a priority due to the urgent need to repopulate the island following 40 years of sexual inertia. Promotional opportunities to more senior, self-esteem enhancing positions will be strictly determined through a process of gerrymandering to ensure parity of esteem. Successful applicants will be identified from the platform at the conclusion of the annual Bar Mitzvah ceremony in Edenderry after the traditional 12th of July parade.
Yesterday, Mr Robinson thundered that “I utterly deplore the grossly inadequate efforts of the old free state nationalist parliament to tackle industrial development.” He particularly deplored their impotence following the 1993 Maastricht Treaty which caused every shred of market power to be sucked into the centre of Europe. The new Government, he stated, has a holistic approach to the urgent national job creation effort. Under this, RIDE will have a name that does not obscure its purpose. Robinson said that names like Forbairt and Forfás “were more evocative of a drug to cure bovine impotence or an epidural anaesthesia, rather than a modern, focused investment agency. The days of the public being taken for a ride on the jobs issue are over!”.
Robinson also stated that The Commonwealth Medal is to be awarded to citizens of outstanding merit. It will no longer be government practice to appoint well-meaning sycophants to the boards of state companies to either honour their eminence or acknowledge their bulging brown envelopes.
County enterprise boards, which between them had 504 directors and 34 employees are to be discontinued but the former director’s will form a National Commemoration Committee that will organise the annual pilgrimage to Bodenstown for Fianna Fáil, now largely a spent parliamentary force since its huge losses in the June general election and especially Peter Robinson winning a Dáil seat in North Kerry. The remainder will replace the members of the Army Number 1 band who were forced to retire due to deafness.
RIDE will have a completely invigorated approach to industrial development. Following a review of its corporate plan the document will be formally lodged in a vault in Milltown Cemetery to avoid the prying eyes of staff curious about its implementation.
New overseas offices will be opened in centres of ‘world-class’ technological excellence – including Tirana, Kabul, Gaza, Darfur and Harare. All existing US offices will be closed to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint and because the recent bankruptcy of Aer Lingus has severed air links with that country. A white flag will be flown over the existing office in Tokyo and Shanghai to encourage trade enquiries. All other overseas offices will display a black flag to commemorate each investment project but an embossed refuse bin lid, bearing the RIDE logo, is to be displayed at the site of each new investment in Ireland, even in circumstances where the chief executive concerned is gay, or laid low by swine flu.
RIDE will come into operation at the end of August. The Archbishop of Armagh, His Eminence Cardinal Pat Buckley will travel to Armagh from his hideout in Cloyne to celebrate a special ecumenical service and the flower arrangements in Armagh Cathedral will be made by Twink and Dana, who will interrupt their holiday at the international break-dancing academy in Gweedore.