One job, no implementation: Why Your Country, Your Call was still a success

Readers will know that I have been following the looking-glass world of Your Country, Your Call for some time. I’ve lots of posts with facts and figures about the company. But there was a report in the Irish Examiner by Colette Browne recently about the competition which prompted me to write about the aims of the competition as I perceived them.

BILLED as a project that would “transform our economy”, the two successful Your Country Your Call projects have hired just a single member of staff, over a year after the two winners were announced.

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Together with a rather offhand reference in an interview with the Chairman of YCYC’s parent company, former head of the Bank of Ireland, Dr. Laurence Crowley to criticism of the general governance of the company, it suggests that the media have decided that Your Country Your Call is an embarrassing dud.

While I have lots of reservations about the competition, I think it’s worthwhile to pause and point out that success should be measured by how well a project achieves its real aims and not the ones it announces to the world. By this yardstick, I think that it has been at least a partial success.

These aims are imputed by me to the endeavor. They represent mere speculation on matters of public interest but have an advantage over the declared motivations of all concerned. My explanations make sense.

Aim 1: Establish Martin McAleese as a political figure in his own right.

Result: Given the timing of the competition, it is tempting to say that the real aim was to run Martin McAleese a candidate for the Presidency, succeeding his wife. But that’s a bit of a stretch. Nonetheless, clearly the primary intent of this competition was to build Martin McAleese’s CV up a bit. Also required was to introduce him to the people of the Republic of Ireland, who had apparently looked through him for 14 years without quite noticing he was there.

The difficulty for the would-be promoter of the Martin McAleese political career path was that his primary claim to personal achievement in public life involved Northern Ireland, in some opaque way. And as far as the voters of the Republic were concerned that bread was well and truly eaten and forgotten.

Our hero was therefore placed in the centre of a circus dealing with the new National Question of the day- JOBS! He would conjure JOBS! from the air, by a feat of will and also by walking through the Phoenix Park. Not just a few JOBS! mind you. That is the sort of thing a man opening a Spar shop might be able to promise. Tens of thousands of jobs- an oil well gushing employment- springing like Athena fully formed from Martin McAleese’s head.

To become a national figure, Martin would “transform our economy”. He was, as he described himself in the peerless piece of puffery below, the man who went out for a walk from Aras an Uachtaráin wondering if the country would get out of the state it was in and returned saying to himself “you’ve got the answer, you know the way forward.”

That is some tour of the Wellington Monument.

As we now know, Martin didn’t quite make it into the Aras race. Probably, for all concerned, that was for the best. But you can’t deny that when Martin McAleese was made a Senator by Enda Kenny, Your Country Your Call hadn’t played its part. It, along with the aforementioned peace process arcana (and dentistry) was cited as his CV. That’s success.

Aside: I know this is off topic, but it is clear that Sean JOBS! Gallagher is currently being positioned in exactly the same way in the Presidential election (by the same FF sorts). We can expect that, like Your Country, Your Call, his campaign will consider itself successful if it can deliver one job. To him.

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