A tale of two news stories

November 30th, 2010 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

Compare and contrast:

There are fears of (more) deaths, particularly of pensioners and the homeless, as Ireland undergoes below-freezing conditions. (That’s not a metaphor for the economy!) Local authorities are struggling to keep roads gritted, with limited budgets available for this purpose (and effect still being felt from repair costs after last year’s record freeze):

Concerns have been expressed about the fate of homeless people in the sub-zero conditions. The Homeless Agency said rough sleeping was being strictly monitoring on a daily basis to ensure there was sufficient bed capacity in emergency homeless accommodation.

At the same time, the manager of Ireland’s soccer team has agreed to take a 5% cut in pay, reflecting the stresses faced by the FAI:

Giovanni Trapattoni said yesterday he had agreed to take the cut, believed to be in the region of €100,000 per annum, after speaking with FAI general secretary John Delaney in Milan last month. … When the reduction is applied to the pay of Tardelli and Fausto Rossi as well as Irish members of the coaching and scouting staff like Mick Martin and Don Givens, the saving should amount to something in the region of €160,000. It is estimated a third of that saving would accrue to businessman Denis O’Brien, who currently pays half of the management team’s major salaries

Not coincidentally, “The Irish Sports Council has contributed €17 million to the FAI since 2004” – that’s about €3m a year. The ISC is the state body charged with distributing funds to individual governing bodies in sport. The funds provided were earmarked for projects on increasing participation in soccer, and we’re promised that the funds were matched 2:1 by the FAI, but really these things are a matter of shuffling around funds – O’Brien might not have provided his funding for programs aimed at serving previously under-reached groups, but even without that €1.6m, it’s interesting to think about what quality of coaching you could get for €200,000 a year. Would it really be so deficient that it’s worth it for the FAI to continue to increase its €50 debt?

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