Ireland

Irish taxpayers unwittingly paying for politicians’ Harvard education

Ben Taub

7 July 2012

Irish taxpayers have gotten their knickers in a twist upon finding out they’re paying for local officials to attend a three-week, $11,450 course at Harvard this summer, according to the Irish Independent.

The course, entitled “Senior Executives in State and Local Government,” is run through the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.   A Kennedy School press representative said in a phone call with Latitude News that it could not comment on students enrolled in the course for privacy reasons.

In all, the Environmental Minister Phil Hogan admitted, Ireland had sent 28 local officials to take the course since 2008, costing taxpayers over $313,000.  This year they’re sending seven, racking up over $80,000 in tuition fees.

Meanwhile, Ireland is in the fourth year of an economic crisis, with the latest unemployment figure hovering at 14.9%, the highest it’s been in almost two decades.

Richard Boyd Barrett, a member of Ireland’s lower house of Parliament, was rather cheesed off by the whole thing.

“I find it difficult to understand why local authority officials need to go to Harvard to learn how to run local government in Ireland.  They would be better served listening to the people here,” he told the Irish Independent.

As one anonymous commenter pointed out, “If they had to go on this training, does this mean they weren’t qualified for their current positions?”

But a promotional video released by the Harvard Kennedy School stresses that the key value of the course is not merely its instruction.  “You learn leadership training, but it’s that dramatic network that you’re plugged into that’s invaluable.”

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