The icy winds of austerity are tearing strips off Government and EU dignitaries if what’s happening in Farmleigh, Phoenix Park, is anything to go by.
I was out in Farmleigh with my the family on Saturday having a little picnic. Me and my wife tried to avoid discussing how we were going to pay our massive electricity and gas bills. Instead I ran up a little hill with one of the kids. Down the far side, the old public car park was packed with seriously cool motors. There was a little cluster of people down there who I thought might be security or something.
Down we rambled. What an impressive sight: ranks of brand new, 131 reg Audi A6 TDIs, all to shuttle EU government dignitaries for the six-month Irish rotation of the EU Presidency. Truly impressive beasts, with appropriately luxurious interiors.
The group I saw huddled were not security in fact, but other stunned and bemused people. Amazingly, there was no physical security there, although there were cameras, linked to security at the main gate I presume.
Now, the Audis have obviously not been bought by the Irish Gov and are, in fact, part of a sponsorship deal with a number of companies (all contracts worth total 1.4m euro) http://www.eu2013.ie/news/news-items/presidencysponsors/
The optics of it all are not the best. This was all commented upon by different groups of people I chatted with there – displaying typical Irish black humour mixed with weary resignation.
As the full force of the budget kicks in, the already-mentioned huge utility bills and higher charges of one sort or another, stumbling across the assembled Audis (handsome as they are) is not what the doctor ordered for rising blood pressure, ulcers and so on. On the same day, the lead story in the Irish Examiner was this http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/families-pushed-to-brink-as-hikes-kick-in-218710.html
Well, you know what they say. Vorsprung durch Technik.