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 Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread

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PostSubject: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 10:27 am

cactus flower wrote:
However would you manage without a daily dose of Future Taiseach and NotDevsSon?

I would survive easily enough Smile

In fact, I disagreed with NotDevSon already today.

As usual, it was about Harney. He seemed to suggest that any mention of Brian, Harney's husband was her private life. It is certainly not if he is representing commercial health interests with his lobbying firm and this represents an extremely serious conflict of interest for which Harney must, absolutely MUST be made accountable.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:01 am

Slim Buddha wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
However would you manage without a daily dose of Future Taiseach and NotDevsSon?

I would survive easily enough Smile

In fact, I disagreed with NotDevSon already today.

As usual, it was about Harney. He seemed to suggest that any mention of Brian, Harney's husband was her private life. It is certainly not if he is representing commercial health interests with his lobbying firm and this represents an extremely serious conflict of interest for which Harney must, absolutely MUST be made accountable.

If this is the case, and if the lobbying impinges on public policy decisions then it would appear that it may be a conflict of interest. Is this in the public domain - do you have a link to anything on this?
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:11 am

cactus flower wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
However would you manage without a daily dose of Future Taiseach and NotDevsSon?

I would survive easily enough Smile

In fact, I disagreed with NotDevSon already today.

As usual, it was about Harney. He seemed to suggest that any mention of Brian, Harney's husband was her private life. It is certainly not if he is representing commercial health interests with his lobbying firm and this represents an extremely serious conflict of interest for which Harney must, absolutely MUST be made accountable.

If this is the case, and if the lobbying impinges on public policy decisions then it would appear that it may be a conflict of interest. Is this in the public domain - do you have a link to anything on this?

Cactusflower, I will come back to the commercialisation of our health service again because Brian Geoghegan's involvement is only a small part of a much wider picture of Harney's destruction of the health service as we know it and its sell-off to commercial for-profit interests. I think it is necessary to show the full picture of the transfer of public assets into private hands and the hidden involvement of the main players and, of course, who Harney is actually serving because it is certainly not the Irish public.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:39 am

*post deleted because it was way off topic*
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 11:50 am

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
I think there is an issue for feminists here. Should Mary Harney have made a decision between her career as Minister for Health and her husband? Should she have resigned as soon as she got engaged? Should she have told him she couldn't marry him because she is Minister for Health. I would have lost all respect for her if she had done any of those things as they all set a very unfair and insidious precedent for women (and possibly men too) in the public serivce. for that reason, I think that to attack her over who her husband is would be totally wrong.

It is a difficult issue. I believe it went to court once and the Judge found the fact that there was a public perception of conflict of interest was sufficient to be acted on, even if both parties were as pure as the driven snow.

I have been in this position myself and eventually changed my work, in part due to the general wear and tear of people's perceptions and to my increasing feeling that with increasing seniority it would not be possible to draw an effective glass wall down in terms of avoiding direct conflict of interest. Perhaps Mary Harney's husband should change the focus of his business.

Does this mean I have a conflict of interest in this discussion Embarassed
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:28 pm

Seeing as you have replied I guess it's ok to continue off topic. I think we have to assume that people are trustworthy until there is evidence to the contrary.

There is no conflict in one spouse being exposed to the other person's views. We have to assume that a spouse will not spin to the other spouse and if they do the other spouse will see through it. In any event, this could happen between friends.

We also have to assume that a spouse will not divulge confidential information to the other spouse until there is evidence to the contrary. While it has to be expected that some people will let us down on this front I think that many people in law, medecine, the civil service and politics live up to this standard, keeping matters confidential even where the other spouse is not an interested party.

Another scenrio is where a spouse might take decisions which might financially benefit another spouse. The link here would have to be fairly direct for me to have a genuine concern. I don't think benefitting the industry within which the spouse is employed as sufficient to arouse any reasonable perception of conflict.

Ireland is a small country and intelligent educated people are going to marry other intelligent educated people meaning you will always have an intersection between the top levels in the civil service and the private sector. To prevent this will not do anyone any good.

Perhaps the greater conflicts of interest are between couples where both spouses are in the civil service and so reform which may not suit one will not be proposed by the other. That may be where real damage is happening as it is not unusual to have two civil servants married to each other.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 2:49 pm

This is Harney's husbands company

http://www.mrpakinman.ie/index.asp

On the site there are profiles of six people

One is Harney's husband

Two are ex-officers of the Progressive Democrats

Another was deeply involved in Fianna Fail and with Ahern in particular.

In the "Our Services" section under "Healthcare", it states


Healthcare
MRPA KINMAN Communications has one of the most experienced healthcare communication teams in the country working with policy, institutional and marketing interests.


Policy??????????

Who really is behind the policy Harney is pushing through? Her party is virtually dead, not that she pays much attention to it. Fianna Fail are content to abandon Health because if they weren't, they would keep Health for themselves and dump Harney as she is, from the political numbers game viewpoint, surplus to requirements. So where does the privatisation policy come from??

This is a lobbying company. A lobbying company needs clients to prosper and they work with a number of private hospitals, as they put it. I am not saying that all or any of this is improper but it certainly raises questions as to who is really behind the determination of the direction our health service is going.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:09 pm

The reading of Stiglitz and Klein opens the eyes to the extent to which political control of our lives has been and is being taken over and replaced by control by commercial interests. EU policy has been framed with very substantial input from commercial interests, working directly with the Commission. The social and socialist agendas of the post war period in Europe are being swept away and we find that the publicly-owned assets and services whether health or communications are obtainable on the basis of ability to pay.

Fianna Fail in my view warrant scrutiny on this. They have cleverly hidden behind Mary Harney, but they are the Government and the policy is theirs.


The idea that this leads to efficiency is a joke. In telecoms, I had to phone two companies about ten times to get my internet service relocated. One owns the infrastructure and the other provides the services and they are in competition with eachother. It took a month to complete, when the actual work involved would not have taken five minutes.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:44 pm

Slim Buddha wrote:
....So where does the privatisation policy come from??....

Ah come on! Mary Harney has been the number one privatisation zealot in the country for the past 10 years or so. Her form stretches back long before her marriage. Any suggestion that her husband is driving this looks silly.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 3:56 pm

cactus flower wrote:
The reading of Stiglitz and Klein opens the eyes to the extent to which political control of our lives has been and is being taken over and replaced by control by commercial interests. EU policy has been framed with very substantial input from commercial interests, working directly with the Commission. The social and socialist agendas of the post war period in Europe are being swept away and we find that the publicly-owned assets and services whether health or communications are obtainable on the basis of ability to pay.

Fianna Fail in my view warrant scrutiny on this. They have cleverly hidden behind Mary Harney, but they are the Government and the policy is theirs.

The idea that this leads to efficiency is a joke. In telecoms, I had to phone two companies about ten times to get my internet service relocated. One owns the infrastructure and the other provides the services and they are in competition with eachother. It took a month to complete, when the actual work involved would not have taken five minutes.

In fairness, the PDs, FF and the civil service all need to take a look at themselves on this. The telecoms privatisation was a complete disaster. The hospitals may not work out well (though we are not giving away the infrastructure this time). However, I cannot see a link which suggests that Mary Harney is pushing this agenda on behalf of her husband. I have always thought she got this sort of stuff wrong. Her marriage has changed nothing.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 4:39 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
Slim Buddha wrote:
....So where does the privatisation policy come from??....

Ah come on! Mary Harney has been the number one privatisation zealot in the country for the past 10 years or so. Her form stretches back long before her marriage. Any suggestion that her husband is driving this looks silly.

I am not saying she is not. Her husband was some sort of ideology wonk in IBEC before Harney appointed him to head up Fàs. But given the background of some of the people in MRPA, it is clear that they are an influence-peddling outfit with a very close relationship to some senior figures in government. I am not saying he is driving the health policy. But it sure looks damn cosy for them all.
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:47 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
cactus flower wrote:
The reading of Stiglitz and Klein opens the eyes to the extent to which political control of our lives has been and is being taken over and replaced by control by commercial interests. EU policy has been framed with very substantial input from commercial interests, working directly with the Commission. The social and socialist agendas of the post war period in Europe are being swept away and we find that the publicly-owned assets and services whether health or communications are obtainable on the basis of ability to pay.

Fianna Fail in my view warrant scrutiny on this. They have cleverly hidden behind Mary Harney, but they are the Government and the policy is theirs.

The idea that this leads to efficiency is a joke. In telecoms, I had to phone two companies about ten times to get my internet service relocated. One owns the infrastructure and the other provides the services and they are in competition with eachother. It took a month to complete, when the actual work involved would not have taken five minutes.

In fairness, the PDs, FF and the civil service all need to take a look at themselves on this. The telecoms privatisation was a complete disaster. The hospitals may not work out well (though we are not giving away the infrastructure this time). However, I cannot see a link which suggests that Mary Harney is pushing this agenda on behalf of her husband. I have always thought she got this sort of stuff wrong. Her marriage has changed nothing.

I suppose my point is that I think that there is too much emphasis on Mary Harney per se. She is a minister in a tiny minority group within Government - she is not needed to keep the government in power. I view the current strategy 100% as Fianna Fail's. The P.D.s will be gone by Christmas, anyway.

In terms of the difficulty of keeping one's lines uncrossed re conflict of interest, I've posted my own experience above. I am scrupulous about conflict of interest and at the time I write of avoided developing friendships with anyone who might have been perceived as wrongly benefiting from contact with me, but short of divorce there was nothing I could do about my husband. Ultimately, it was a contributing factor in deciding me to move on. I might agree with you in theory that it shouldn't have been an issue, but it was. And how can you be sure that you're not unconciously being influenced even if you think you're not ?
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Tue Aug 05, 2008 7:57 pm

I agree the current strategy is 100% FF and they cannot dissociate themselves from it even if it makes their supporters uncomfortable.

I can see how the practical reality of who your husband was could make you adjust your options. However, I think a Minister has a duty to other civil servants to stand firm so they are not forced to follow her wrongly falling on a sword.

Also, everybody is unconsciously influenced every day of their lives by friends families colleagues and peers. Your huband may influence you whether he has a conflict or not. What's the big deal? Should Ruairi Quinn have disowned his brother Lachlan befoe becoming a Minister. Should Brian Cowen have eschewed responsibiility for customs and excise duty when his brother was a publican? Where does it end?
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PostSubject: Re: Safeguarding ethics in Public Life - Split from the "Having a Jar" thread   Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:28 pm

Zhou_Enlai wrote:
I agree the current strategy is 100% FF and they cannot dissociate themselves from it even if it makes their supporters uncomfortable.

I can see how the practical reality of who your husband was could make you adjust your options. However, I think a Minister has a duty to other civil servants to stand firm so they are not forced to follow her wrongly falling on a sword.

Also, everybody is unconsciously influenced every day of their lives by friends families colleagues and peers. Your huband may influence you whether he has a conflict or not. What's the big deal? Should Ruairi Quinn have disowned his brother Lachlan befoe becoming a Minister. Should Brian Cowen have eschewed responsibiility for customs and excise duty when his brother was a publican? Where does it end?

I suppose there should be clear rules, policy making and procurement should be carefully scrutinised, and in the area outside rules, one has to make ones own best judgement.
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