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Does Ireland need an École Nationale d'Administration?


Shqiptar

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The Ecole Nationale d’Administration (ENA) was set up on 9th October 1945 by the government of General Charles de Gaulle. ENA's function is to train top level civil servants, preparing its graduates for careers in the upper echelons of the French civil administration, the Council of State, (“Conseil d’Etat”) the Court of Auditors (Cour des Comptes), various Inspectorates e.g. for Finance or Social Affairs and the diplomatic and overseas trade promotion services.

The aims of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration are:
- to standardize the recruitment of civil servants destined for a wide variety of careers that hitherto were accessible via separate competitive examinations,
- to ensure professional training of the highest quality for these civil servants, who generally rise
to the highest levels of public service.

While it's not explicitly stated, there is a greater degree of meritocracy. Successful candidates will have proved what they know - not who they know.

Contrary to what I'd believed before, most graduates (les énarques) don't end up in politics. Many of them are the proverbial éminences grises who pull strings and set policies behind the scenes. Nevertheless, the list of prominent graduates really does look like a who's who of French politics in the late 20th century or early 21st century: Giscard d'Estaing, Jacques Chirac, Francois Hollande, Laurent Fabius, Michel Rocard, Édouard Balladur, Alain Juppé, Lionel Jospin, Dominique de Villepin, Pierre Moscovici, Michel Sapin, Fleur Pellerin, Ségolène Royal, Pascal Lamy, Jean-Claude Trichet, Michel Camdessus along with many who went on to become major figures in French business and industry.

Could Ireland do with such an institution for the purposes of training future leaders? I've often felt that Irish politicians are less polished than they could be and while I wouldn't see an Irish ENA as being the only way in which one could enter politics, it would certainly be an improvement on what seems to be the current route for many: cumann >> council >> candidate for Dáil seat. We all know about the dynasties and the mediocre bumblers who are in politics because their father was or because they're particularly good at networking in their own constituency and "getting things done" - this all being regardless of their ignorance of economics, social affairs, foreign policy etc.

The énarques system is certainly not without its critics but if - in the Irish context - it would bring in a few more people of real ability while squeezing out the Jackie Healy-Rae types, it would be well worth it.
 


S

Science Ninja

Why not just send them to the Ecole Nationale d'Administration? The great thing about being in a Union is that you don't have to reinvent every thing.
 

Spirit Of Newgrange

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i recall recently seeing a lefty documentary on how latin american dictators were sent to a training camp to learn the dark arts of totalitarian government, torture, media control etc. Fascinating. I bet our eejits would love to attend that course.
 

drummed

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Certainly. Patslatt could run it?
 

Shqiptar

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Why not just send them to the Ecole Nationale d'Administration? The great thing about being in a Union is that you don't have to reinvent every thing.
Well, only about 100 graduate every year. How many graduates would little old Ireland get?
 
S

Science Ninja

I think that while education certainly plays into it, the prime reason for the apparent lack of high quality leaders is largely statistical. Ireland has 4.5m people, give or take. France has 65m people. They'll have 14 times as many good leaders as us if all things were equal. In reality they'll have many more due to the concentration of excellence at places like ENA, and the quality of opportunity that scale brings.
 

southwestkerry

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A nice idea, but knowing Ireland and our dear leaders in the making, it would all be about what expenses thay can claim.
 
S

Science Ninja

Well, only about 100 graduate every year. How many graduates would little old Ireland get?
Well, equally, how many do you want/need? It's not that big a place that it needs so much running. If 100 is enough for France, 6 or 7 should be enough for Ireland.
 

Mattarigna

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Disagree - I think that the money could be better employed improving our existing universities.
 

SPN

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I'm pretty sure Opus Dei already have this covered.
 

The OD

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Sounds French so without even reading the OP I would say NO!
 

Shqiptar

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Well, equally, how many do you want/need? It's not that big a place that it needs so much running. If 100 is enough for France, 6 or 7 should be enough for Ireland.
The ENA has been going for nearly 70 years. The French have built up a critical mass of highly qualified leaders and administrators. We wouldn't need 100 per year in the long run. Considering the number of positions aimed at and the level of attrition or turnover, 5-10 might indeed be enough.
 

Edo

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dont see the need to be honest

France is a very statist country in organisation and culture

Ireland, on the other hand, is a country populated in the main,by inconsistent, individualistic, passivist anarchists........

We could have the most brilliant finishing school for top level civil servants - which is what most of the enarques end up as anyway - either in the civil service proper or in the many state run businesses in France.............but it still wont get you elected unless you can get the minutae of Irish parish life down to a fine art..........
 

Mattarigna

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I think that while education certainly plays into it, the prime reason for the apparent lack of high quality leaders is largely statistical. Ireland has 4.5m people, give or take. France has 65m people. They'll have 14 times as many good leaders as us if all things were equal. In reality they'll have many more due to the concentration of excellence at places like ENA, and the quality of opportunity that scale brings.
Completely disagree - France has being a(relatively) democratic republic for longer than Ireland has being an independent state, and they also gad universal education for at least a decade longer than us, as well as superior infastructure, and a tradition of republican democracy streatching back centuries. It is'nt much wonder that they would be that bit more politically developed.
 

Shqiptar

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Disagree - I think that the money could be better employed improving our existing universities.
Fair enough. Would you feel the need for an ENA-like qualification in one or more university?
 
S

Science Ninja

dont see the need to be honest

France is a very statist country in organisation and culture

Ireland, on the other hand, is a country populated in the main,by inconsistent, individualistic, passivist anarchists........

We could have the most brilliant finishing school for top level civil servants - which is what most of the enarques end up as anyway - either in the civil service proper or in the many state run businesses in France.............but it still wont get you elected unless you can get the minutae of Irish parish life down to a fine art..........
Well, getting the permanent government side of things onto a higher quality basis might still be worthwhile.
No matter our disposition, we still actually do have a state, and quite a lot of the workforce work for it.
 

Glaucon

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Definitely. There are any number of highly intelligent graduates and soon to be graduates with an express desire to serve the state, but who cannot due to the civil service recruitment ban - énarques become paid civil servants on admission to the school, and are henceforth trained in a wide variety of areas in which they can make a leading contribution to their country (note, too, the compulsory mastering of at least two foreign languages to be considered for entry - a very serious Irish weakness).

This selection and training, for example, helps render France's diplomatic corps perhaps the most effective in the world; so effective that the British are still trying to copy it.

Britain's diplomats have been told to learn lessons from the French, if they are to become the best diplomatic service in the world.

It follows advice from an external panel of advisers who told the Foreign Office that France was the best at pushing its national interest.

Top mandarin Simon Fraser told MPs France was known for supporting its economic and commercial interests.
In comparison, Ireland's diplomatic corps is pathetic in its inefficacy. We can, and should, do better.
 

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