Yesterday, RTEs John Murray Show, hosted by Kathryn Thomas, began with the following skit at the expense of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Lads, what do you make of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, he’s some buck. I nearly fell off my chair watching the news last night listening to it.

He’s lost his appeal against a four year conviction for fraudulent accounting at a media firm and apparently the 77 year old is too old to go to jail in Italy so he’s been banned from leaving the region of Lombardy.

He has an eleven pm curfew (laughter) and he has to do four hours community service a week in an old folks home. So I suppose he’ll be finally hanging out with people his own age.

Let me know what you think.

Clearly, RTE sees the Italian way of dealing with political corruption as hilarious.

Curioiusly, the station’s listeners don’t seem to share the same sense of humour. I listened to the show while doing something else but I’m pretty sure not a single response was read out in support of the skit.

In fact the item seems to have been dropped completely.

This is very unusual as there is almost always a big response to such invitations for humourous comment from the Irish public.

I suspect this was because the overwhelming reaction was similar to the email I sent in – which, of course, was not read out.

On Berlusconi:

Italy is generally seen as the most corrupt country in Europe and yet they have put a corrupt former Prime Minister through their court system showing that at least they are acting against even the most powerful.

The people of Ireland can only look on with envy and wonder if they will ever see their justice system make a Prime Minister or former Prime Minister accountable.

They would not be advised to hold their breadths

Anthony Sheridan

Copy to:
John Murray Show

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On 4 March last I phoned the office of the Minister for Justice to find out the names of the Gardai who, we are told, were disciplined for their part in the penalty points scandal.

The Department has refused to answer my question.

I was informed by the Information Ombudsman that I could make a formal complaint if no substantial reply was received after six weeks.

I have removed the name of the civil servant with whom I have been in communications with on this matter.

My complaint was made on an official form on the Ombudsman’s website hence the structure.

Which public body is your complaint about? The Department of Justice.

When did the action you are now complaining about take place? 4 March and on going.

Please tell us: What happened? Where did it happen? Who was involved? How were you affected?

The Department of Justice is, effectively, refusing to answer a question.

The sequence of events are as follows:

4 March: I emailed the following question to the Minister for Justice.

To Whom It May Concern:

It is public knowledge that a number of Gardai have been punished as a result of the penalty points controversy.
I request the name, rank, location and punishment meted out to the Gardai in question.

If this is not possible I request the regulation/legislation under which it is not possible.

Yours sincerely

Anthony Sheridan

5 March: I received the following acknowledgement.

Dear Mr Sheridan,

I write to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 4 March, 2014.
Yours sincerely,

Minister for Justice and Equality

13 March: I sent the following email to the Minister for Justice

Dear Mr.

I would be grateful if you could give a rough indication of when I could expect a reply to my email of 4 March last.

Yours sincerely
Anthony Sheridan

13 March: Received the following acknowledgement.

Dear Mr. Sheridan,

I write to acknowledge receipt of your email dated 13 March, 2014.

Yours sincerely,
Minister for Justice and Equality

20 March: Rang the Information Ombudsman and was advised that I could make a formal complaint if no substantial reply was received after six weeks.

2 April: I sent the following email to the Minister for Justice.

Dear Mr.

I would be grateful if you could give a rough indication of when I could expect a reply to my email of 4 March last.

Yours sincerely
Anthony Sheridan

2 April: Received the following acknowledgement.

Dear Mr Sheridan,

I wish to acknowledge receipt of your latest email of 02 February 14.
Your previous correspondence is currently being dealt with and a further reply will issue as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

It is now six weeks since I submitted my question without a substantial reply. This question could have been answered within an hour or, at most, within 24 hours.

It is reasonable, therefore , to assume that the Department is refusing to answer the question.

I submit my complaint.

What do you want the public body to do to put things right?

Answer the question.

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The Irish Examiner editorial describes the latest revelations in the Ian Bailey case as mind boggling.

That Gardai may have considered paying someone in order to frame a man for murder is described as not only corrupt but almost unbelievable.

The Irish Times speaks of an appalling vista and grave national concern that Gardai may have acted illegally in securing convictions in the courts.

And yet this stuff is old hat, it’s all happened before. Garda corruption in Donegal involved a whole range of crimes including framing a man for murder.

Nobody was charged, some were allowed to retire on full pension and, to my knowledge, just three gardai were fired.

In other words, major criminal acts carried out by police officers and confirmed by an Oireachtas inquiry were effectively ignored.

The political response was exactly the same as the response we are now witnessing in respect of the latest scandals.

Denial, useless internal reports, full support for the Gardai and minister, promises to legislate to prevent it happening again blah, blah, blah….

The then Justice Minister McDowell and his civil servants who drafted and introduced the ‘this must never be allowed to happen again’ legislation must have been complete morons or they deliberately drafted the law to ensure the minister and Gardai remained unaccountable.

I suspect most intelligent citizens would opt for the latter explanation.

So what’s happening now?

Well, editorials are expressing shock and outrage, politicians are expressing their unqualified confidence in the minister and the Garda and everybody is supremely confident that the interim Garda Commissioner, Noirin O’Sullivan, will act decisively to reform the force.

So let’s have a look at what she has done to restored confidence and clean out the corruption that’s obviously rampant within the force.

She has decided to leave in place the punishment meted out to completely vindicated Garda Maurice McCabe by her predecessor.

And she’s conducting a survey to ask rank and file members how the organisation can be improved.

Pathetic and all a bit sad so to finish I’ll express the brutal truth.

Corruption is rampant within the Gardai because our corrupt political/administrative system, by doing nothing, allowed that corruption to flourish.

That rotten system will do nothing in this instance. Things will remain exactly as they are, exactly as they were allowed to remain following the Morris Tribunal.

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So what are we to make of the obnoxious Mr. Shatter’s decision to absent himself from the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors?

Well, in two words – pathetic and cowardly

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I’m shocked, shocked to my core I tell you on hearing the advice given to the jury by the Anglo Irish Bank trial judge.

Judge Martin Nolan told them they must have moral courage when considering their verdict.

But…but…that means they’ll be using a concept that’s completely foreign to bankers… and that’s just not fair.

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I recently received an email from the Department of Education in response to a query which included the following sentence.

To assist you, the following links provide answers to queries frequently raised by our customers.

I find the use of the term ‘customers’ to be obnoxious. I am not a customer of any government agency, I am a citizen of the State within which every government agency works on my and every other citizen’s behalf.

Somewhere along the line there was a culture change when some politician/civil servant decided that the term ‘citizen’ bestowed too much respect on citizens. It was decided to create a culture whereby the state raised itself to a position above that of the great unwasahed.

It was decided that ordinary citizens were to be looked down upon as no more than ‘customer’s’ of the ruling elite.

I totally reject this obnoxious attitude and will work to destroy the arrogant system that seeks to dilute the quality of my citizenship.

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From the Attic Archives

Some quotes from an article by Brendan O’Connor (Sunday Independent, July 20 1997) on the concept of zero tolerance and the criminal Haughey’s appearance at the McCracken Tribunal.

I wonder if Charlie wouldn’t have preferred to go to prison with his honour intact rather than watch the self-righteous mob led by Fintan O’Toole don the war paint and dance around the bonfire gloating.

Charlie may have been a bollox, but no more than any of us are bolloxes.

Bolloxes on a smaller stage maybe but flawed, greedy bollixes all the same.

Sometimes I lie awake at night and I wonder if even Fintan O’Toole is flawed. Maybe even Fintan is a bollox like all the rest of us.

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Once again AIB has ‘accidentally’ overcharged customers.

After investigating itself the bank concluded that the whole affair was just a minor incident, an accident.

The standard apology was issued and customers were assured that nobody would be out of pocket.

Happy days.

Except for the inconvenient fact that AIB is one of the most corrupt financial institutions in the state with a long record of criminality, which saw the theft of countless millions from customers, and the State.

Since the economic collapse in 2008 citizens have been constantly assured by politicians, government officials and bankers that a new dawn in financial regulation has arrived.

Going forward, we were told, the Financial Regulator would regulate with an iron fist, immediate and searching investigations would be conducted at the slightest hint of wrong doing, the law would be forcibly applied without mercy to protect the consumer.

With this in mind I rang the so-called new Financial Regulator this afternoon to ask about its involvement in this latest ‘accident’ by AIB.

No, (The Financial Regulator is not involved) AIB is investigating the matter and when completed and everything is resolved there would be no reason for the Financial Regulator to intervene.

We don’t’ know exactly what the situation is, it may be just a computer glitch, we don’t have a lot of information on exactly what the situation is.

We are aware that some people have been overcharged but no doubt they will be reimbursed.

So here’s the reality. The so-called ‘new’ Financial Regulator is operating in exactly the same manner as the previous regulator. That is, it’s not actually regulating at all.

The banks are still allowed to investigate themselves and if that results in the theft of millions, well tough shit, customers will just have to suck it up.

Copy to:
Central Bank

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Enda Kenny’s adoption of the criminal Haughey’s dictum Uno duce, una voce puts the final nail in the coffin of his so-called democratic revolution.

Expressing an opinion in public is now, apparently, forbidden by ‘the great leader’.

His assertion that the Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan deserved absolute respect is laughable. In a functional democracy Callinan would have been sacked long ago.

So not only is the so-called democratic revolution over, but Fine Gael are fast morphing into a clone of Fianna Fail, the most corrupt political party in the country.

Copy to:
Enda Kenny

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Despite the best efforts of the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, the Garda Commissioner, Martin Callinan, the Government and others it has now been established that there was widespread corruption within the Gardai in relation to the handling of the penalty points system.

Alan Shatter and Martin Callinan are also guilty of attempting to cover up the corruption. In a functional democracy such behaviour would result in immediate dismissals, a proper police investigation and likely prosecutions.

Let me repeat that:

In a functional democracy Alan Shatter and Martin Callinan would be immediately dismissed from office and become the focus of a police investigation.

In a functional democracy those police officers that acted corruptly would also find themselves out of a job and under investigation.

But because Ireland is an intrinsically corrupt state, that is, a state that actively tolerates, facilitates and protects the corrupt, no action whatsoever will be taken.

The response to this latest incidence of corruption is exactly the same response to every other incidence of corruption over the past several decades.

Our Prime Minister:

The Taoiseach expressed confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the Minister for Justice. He claims that the dysfunctionality and inefficiency in the force is now being addressed.

This is to completely ignore the fact that corruption has occurred.

The Garda Inspectorate, Robert Olsen:

It’s a very minor piece of the huge remit that the Garda Siochana has and it kind of slipped by the wayside.

This is to completely ignore the fact that corruption has occurred.

The Opposition:

Various opposition spokespersons have called for apologies and resignations but nobody has called for a criminal investigation

This is to completely ignore the fact that corruption has occurred.

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