You can tell a lot about our political culture from the makeup of the cabinet. The Taoiseach, Dermot Ahern and Brian Lenihan are nominally lawyers, but have spent more time in politics than in practice. Martin, Hanafin, Dempsey, Killeen, and Carey were all teachers. O’Cuiv ran a co-op. Smith was a special advisor to John Wilson. Coughlan was a social worker. Nearly all of them spent little time in those jobs compared to their time in politics.
In other words, only two members of the cabinet have actual wide experience of running a private organisation that could A) actually go bust, and B) had to meet a payroll from generated income. John Gormley, who ran a private language school, and Eamonn Ryan, who ran a cycling holiday firm.
It’s not surprising, then, that Mary Hanafin thinks it’s normal to demand a law to keep a spare job open for her in teaching, just in case her current job does not work out. It’s all she, and most of the FF cabinet, know.
Amendment: Just a point that has been nagging me since I wrote this posting. I actually think that Mary Hanafin is one of the more competant members of the cabinet, and seemed to be really in charge of her brief at social welfare, which makes me regard her demotion (and it is a demotion) as odd. I still think she’s absolutely wrong on the teacher thing, all the same, but fair’s fair.