David is too easily impressed. Over here in Ireland, we were doing public sector cannibalism when public sector cannibalism wasn’t cool.
In 1992, the Irish Labour party broke with tradition by entering into a coalition government with Fianna Fail. The Labour party had increased its share of the vote after a campaign of vigorous opposition to Fianna Fail. To placate its voters, most of whom had expected that they were kicking FF out of government, and because they were feeling cocky, Labour demanded a whole raft of rhetorical leftiness in the government program. One of these was to rename the crusty old “right wing” Department of Justice as the brand new, “compassionate” Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. A consequence of this was the establishment of Citizen Traveller, charged with:
implementing an integrated communications initiative to promote the visibility and participation of Travellers within Irish society, to nurture the development of Traveller pride and self confidence, and to give Travellers a sense of community identity that could be expressed internally and externally.
This translates as: a Traveller-advocacy group working out of a government department, their motto: “Promoting travellers as an ethnic minority”. So when one government department – the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform – enacted legislation to enable the police to evict caravans which were trespassing on private property, a branch of the same government department – Citizen Traveller – took out expensive billboard and newspaper advertisements to protest this “racist and unworkable law”.
We are unfortunate in that, despite his classical liberal background, our current Justice minister Michael McDowell has developed a Blunkett-like authoritarianism but he is to be congratulated for phasing “Equality” out of his department and ultimately shutting down Citizen Traveller.