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SOAPBOX: Watt The Hell Is Going On?

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Having a punny sense of humour can antagonize, demoralize and even anaesthetize listeners.
In bar counter lingo a pun can sometimes bring a pain in the arse retort.
Perhaps smart-alecky puns are best avoided but in this instance we cannot avoid the temptation.
We simply had to put the poser.
Watt the hell is going on here?
We are asking about a story that, understandably continues to dominate newspaper columns, about the proposed appointment of a man called Robert Watt as the new Secretary General of our country’s Department of Health.
The tale which involves the former Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure who was moved to health on an interim basis.
Some may be reading avidly with a newspaper in one hand and a blood pressure monitor in the other.
Plan, it would appear, was to give one Robert Watt the health post with a kind of wage packet for one year that many of us may not have brought home in a lifetime of hard work.
The package was upped from €211,000 to €292,000.

And, surprise, surprise, the vast majority of those in FF, FG and Greens would appear to be happy with the reward given to Mr Watt who, for all we know, may be a bright bulb or a dim wit.
We have no hassle with the man in pole position for the post, as we simply don’t know him or have no great insight into his possible prowess.
But the size of the remuneration, most likely boosted by lavish expenses, pension, fancy car and god only knows what else, has to rankle with those great people we call ordinary folk.
We can only imagine how the parent of a special child would feel when learning of Mr Watt’s salary considering that his or her son or daughter may have been refused basic help from Government.
Anger we suggest would be the mood of our frontline nurses who are being disgracefully ill-treated by Government.
Those trying to rear a family whilst struggling on what is called the basic living wage, simply have to be fuming, feeling cheated.

Two-tier Ireland, promoted by the dithering trinity of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Greens is sickening, anti-democratic and unjust.
It is also dangerous as there may come a time when our people won’t take any more of this degrading treatment.
Hundreds of thousands, millions maybe, may already resent any cosying up those in the Golden Circle while trampling on those from whom politicians beg for votes at election time and then dump them into a crazy land of uncertainty.
It will be interesting to see how this story pans out but, as usual, the smart money will be on the appointment going ahead despite a challenge from Opposition Benches.
Not going down without a fight are local FF TD, John McGuinness and the Social Democrat, Catherine Murphy who are digging in their heels and with courageous action could upset FF, FG, Green skullduggery.
It would take a Herculean move from either or both of these politicians to move the mountain that is this health appointment.

Deputy McGuinness, well known and perhaps secretly respected by his colleagues as an outspoken rebel or maverick put down a historic marker when he sided with whistleblower, Maurice McCabe as his FF friends and foes, along with other political party lackeys cowardly hid under their beds.
If Deputy McGuinness were to vote against the Government on this one it could be a game changer in the murky world of Irish politics.
He would be exposing the real Ireland as opposed to the sham that politicians have been powdering over for generations.
In the meantime other local TDs remain silent.
We will eventually find out where Malcolm Noonan of the Greens, John Paul Phelan of FG and Jennifer Murnane O’Connor of FF stand when any Dáil vote materializes on the issue.
Kathleen Funchion of FF will no doubt join her colleagues in putting a spanner in the works.
Meanwhile, at local council level, it would be interesting to hear how Government-friendly councillors view the whopping pay for the health post.
Provided of course they are not too busy bombarding us with Covid figures, posing for photographs and canvassing for new back doors for constituents.

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