The Civil Service Act of 1908 requires that a civil service officer must “be a man of the people, of the free and of the enlightened” and “of the enlightened and of good character” in order to be eligible to hold public office.
In practice, this meant that civil servants often had little choice but to serve in “red-baiting, patronage politics, patronage economics, patronage management and patronage governance” which made them more susceptible to being pushed to the right by their superiors.
Today’s civil service is no different.
There is a growing awareness that “the politics of grievance, of grievance management, of power, of patronage, and of patronage politics” are becoming the new norm in civil service institutions.
The result is a new culture of patronage in public life, with a number of different forms of patronage taking over in different spheres of public life.
The Civil Service Reform Act 2014 is aimed at ensuring that civil service staff have the capacity to do their jobs in a democratic way.
This article is part of a series by The Irish Times about the role of the civil service.