Press Statement by AHCPS
Senior public servants call on Marc MacSharry to apologise for ‘box sets’ remark via The Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/senior-public-servants-call-on-marc-macsharry-to-apologise-for-box-sets-remark-1.4317741
Deputy Marc MacSharry – Statement by The Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants
CALL FOR APOLOGY FOR ‘ILL-INFORMED AND ILL-CONSIDERED’ COMMENTS
We are calling on Deputy Marc MacSharry to withdraw the ill-informed and ill-considered comments he made about public servants in the Dáil this week, and to apologise for the hurt and offence he has caused.
Our members are based all over the country and they have contacted us in large numbers to complain about comments made by Deputy MacSharry this week, in which he accused them of ‘lying on the couch’ and ‘watching box sets’ since the Covid-19 crisis hit. They are, quite properly, offended and hurt at his blatant disregard, for what has been a national collective effort to navigate through the worst pandemic in living memory, led in no small way by our civil and public service.
Like many workers – in the public and private sectors – our members have gone above and beyond in the last number of months in the discharge of their duties. In many circumstances like in the Department of Health, Department of Education, Revenue Commissioners and Department of Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands in particular, they have been operating in constant crisis mode, given the urgent and critical need for change demanded by the pandemic, and in the interests of ensuring the needs of the public are met.
For various reasons, this has often been done in less than optimal working conditions.
The change of Government has also required the careful and ongoing attention of our members in particular, given their role in briefing new Ministers.
In claiming that most people have returned to their normal places of work, he shows particular ignorance – since the public health and Government advice is still to work from home, wherever possible. Consequently, the majority of private sector workers have not returned to their normal place of work, nor has most of the public sector.
The work of civil and public servants is often invisible but, without it, the country will simply be unable to function.
In equating working from home as ‘mediocracy dressed up as efficiency’ Deputy MacSharry’s views are also seriously out of step with the modern working world. The programme for the Government of which he is a member, has also committed to developing ‘a national remote working policy to facilitate employees in working from home, or from co-working spaces in rural areas, and to support the retention of skilled young people in rural communities.’
Our members go about their work in a dutiful and conscientious way and they are not expecting plaudits but equally they deserve respect and informed comment. Interventions like those made by Deputy Marc MacSharry in the Dáil this week are more akin to the populists politics we have seen on the rise in other countries – they should be withdrawn.