The Mahon Report which was published earlier this week did NOT determine that Bertie Ahern, the former Taoiseach was corrupt. It merely noted that as Minister for Finance he did not have a bank account of his own……which is to say the least a bit odd. Also it noted that he could not properly account for the amount of money he had received from (rather rich) benefactors in the construction industry. His own (poor) recollection was that the cash received was “dig outs” (charity by friends who wanted to help, knowing he had been impoverished by a divorce). Likewise his “I won it on the horse racing” was not believed by the Mahon Tribunal ……or indeed his closest friends.
Yet………….nobody can actually say he was corrupt. Unlike several of his Fianna Fáil colleagues (and a handful of Fine Gael people) on Dublin County Council where corruption was endemic. Yet I dont think that Bertie can totally distance himself from the culture……particuarly within the Party he led in County Dublin. Arguably his predecessor Charles Haughey initiated or developed that culture and senior Fianna Fáil figures like Ray Burke and Liam Lawlor took corruption to a higher level.
Fianna Fáil, the usual Party of Government in the Republic of Ireland is unloved by the Media. Its country based members dismissed as “culchies” (rednecks) and its big city politicians dismissed as “bosses”…….indeed there is a genetic link to “Irish Democrat” political bosses in Boston and Chicago.
Are Irish people…corrupt? Well………..only our politicians, churchmen and bankers…….so far. And the country has been damaged by them. And also by the discovery that we respected them.
The word “Taoiseach” means “Chief” and actually its fitting. In medeival culture clan fiefdoms emerged and I think there is an expectation that there will be some strange dealings in politics………the expectation is also that the politician will act in the interests of the people who elect them.
But arguably, the corruption in Dublin County Council……..where politicians were paid envelopes stuffed with cash to re-zone land for development……..inflated land prices………producing the credit and property bubble …….which all went wrong a few years ago. The Plain People of Ireland are paying the price. It has not been a victimless crime.
Fianna Fáils main rival……Fine Gael….is more conservative……..and rather like the rivals of Irish Democrats in Boston and Chicago sees itself as more honourable than Fianna Fáil.
People……including West Brits and other Hibernophobes on Dublin’s south side despise Bertie and his north side “cronies”. Yet before the strange tale of Ahern’s finances were proven…….Ahern would have had a very different legacy. He was instrumental in the Peace Process (as indeed had Albert Reynolds a predecessor also now proven to be a bit callous in regard to “donations”).
Had “nice” John Bruton (labelled “John Unionist because of his antipathy to northern nationalists) who was Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997 stayed in offce for the Good Frday Agreement (1998)…….northern nationalists would not have made the advances that we have.
The point is that corruption…….the misuse of public funds ……is indeed reprehensible……….but sometimes it is being done by our “friends”……..but does that mean we want our enemies (BlueShirts and West Brit Fine Gael) to be in office. In last years General Election, Fianna Fáil was reduced to a rump……..and these scandals will damage them further. Fine Gael…….no friend of northern nationalists will be running the Republic of Ireland for a very long time.
There is of course a difference between Public “Greatness” and Private “Goodness”. Arguably John F Kennedy was a great American,,,,,,,,but a serial adulterer. Winston Churchill was a British hero………and a boorish, drunken racist. Adolf Hitler was a bad “Public” man but he was a vegetarian dog lover.
While it is nice for “our” political friends to be above reproach….is it more important that they attain office……..to act on our interests?