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That would be an ecumenical matter

A Craggy Island

If ‘Yes Minister’ was the essential program in the 1980’s for understanding the public-school educated Westminster mandarin, the aphorisms of Father Ted fulfilled the same function in informing a British audience about the surreality of rural Catholic Ireland.

Saws such as ‘Will you have a cup of tea, Father?’ ‘Down with this sort of thing,’ and ‘Ah go on,’ have entered the Irish lexicon of absurdity. But when he needed to dodge pressure from Bishop Brennan, and to appear he had some control over the parochial house, Fr Ted’s go-to phrase for Fr Jack was ‘that would be an ecumenical matter.’

The Virtue of Silence

It had the virtue of shutting down a complex discussion, while sounding canonical and erudite, and yet was entirely meaningless. A little like the commentary in the Cost of Insurance Working Group report on the constitutionality of capping general damages awards:

the State must be cognisant of the constitutional rights of all parties and must balance those rights to ensure any encroachment on those rights is justified, proportionate and in the common good.’

It sounds wonderfully authoritative, learned, and scholarly, except it’s a ball of smoke. No one is going to encroach on anyone’s constitutional rights, and capping general damages would not be unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has ruled it can cap general damages (twice). The State has already defined by law, in the Civil Liability Act 1961, the maximum amount of general damages payable in the case of a fatality. It’s €35,000, just so you know. The ‘constitutional’ brigade are suggesting the existence of a principle that simply isn’t there.

The Real Tracker Mortgage Scandal: Costs

It’s one thing for ISME to point out that the ‘C-Word’ is being abused to justify the status quo. But when it appears in a document produced by the brightest and best mandarins in our Department of Finance, we should all be scared about whose interests this ignorance serves. The tracker mortgage scandal accidentally threw light on the problem last month. The Central Bank said the Tracker Scandal would cost banks €600m, plus another €300m in costs. The cure is 50% of the disease! The Department of Finance reckons legal costs consistently amount to 42% of the total cost of insurance claims.

The Calm before the Storm

The Legal Services Bill was one of the most amended pieces of legislation ever presented to Dáil Éireann. Over 235 amendments were presented to it before it was finally enacted. And the Legal Services Bill did not threaten the cash-printing industry that is legal costs in the way that is on the cards now. So get ready for some very active lobbying by those whose noses are deep in the trough. That trough is filled by you and me with stupidly high insurance premiums. No doubt they will continue to claim it’s ‘unconstitutional,’ it infringes our ‘property rights,’ and that they’re defending the common man.

All bull! So how do we explain the feigned ignorance among the ruling classes about the constitutionality of proposals to stop the flow of bonkers awards for the most minor of injuries? Ask Father Ted: ‘That money was just resting in my account.’