As the Irish Government plays hard ball with the IMF over interest rates on their £77 Billion bailout, rates which they claim are simply too high for the country to pay back, the government continues to spend lavish amounts of money on what can only be described as high end luxury items.
The Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland recently signed off on a contract for a €7000 (£6,100) rugs for its Ambassador’s residence in Austria. The lavish hand-woven rug will be made by Galway based Connemara Carpets. Director of the firm Kieran O’Donohue would not be drawn on the cost of the rug but did say ‘This is not most people’s idea of a rug. It is a large area and most people would call this a carpet. The difference in this case is that a carpet is meant to go wall to wall whereas this does not, and is therefore classed as a rug.’
With unemployment figures topping 14% and almost 10% off all mortgages in Ireland in arrears serious questions must be asked about whether a €7,000 rugs is a legitimate way to spend what is essentially IMF money. The Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on whether this was an appropriate use of money considering the dire state of public funds. Public sentiment, however, has been a little more forthright and many people in Ireland, and indeed throughout Europe, have been disgusted by such outrageous spending by a government that would have collapsed but for the help of the EU.
The tendering process has also caused controversy with fellow tenders, the Dixon Carpet Company requesting documents relating to the selection process. In response the Department of Foreign Affairs said the only evaluation criterion for the rug has been cost. Corruption and overspending have been the two strongest allegations thrown at the Irish Government of the past 10 years led by Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern. It was hoped Enda Kenny’s Fianna Gael led coalition would be able to drag public servants from these kinds of practices but it is proving more difficult that first thought.
It is clearly a throw back to the days when money was much more plentiful and simply underlines why Ireland and other such countries have gotten into the financial situation they are in.
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