Many years ago, long before the economic catastrophe of 2008, I came to the conclusion that Ireland was an intrinsically corrupt state.
By ‘intrinsically corrupt’ I mean that there is no independent state authority capable or willing to bring those found, or suspected to be corrupt, to account.
As a result we witness, time after time, corrupt individuals, groups and organisations commit serious crimes with no fear whatsoever that they will be brought to justice.
State authorities simply do not act when certain categories of individuals or groups are suspected of corrupt practices.
For example, Irish Examiner journalist Michael Clifford, writing about the Lowry tapes scandal, is scathing of State authorities for their abject failure to act on the matter.
It’s worth reproducing the first few paragraphs of his article:
The controversy that has come to be known as The Lowry Tapes tells us much about what passes for democracy in this State.
The issue involves prima facie evidence that at least one crime may have been committed by serving TD and former government minister, Michael Lowry.
In a proper democracy, such as in Britain, this would be a matter for the police. The matter would be investigated and a file prepared for the state prosecuting body.
Thereafter, charges would either be preferred, or the matter dropped completely on the basis that there was no case to answer.
We don’t do things that way. Instead of a criminal justice process without-fear-or-favour, we have waffle; point scoring; a political culture that is concerned only with what interests the public, rather than the public interest; and a criminal justice system that freezes whenever a politician appears on its radar.
And it’s not just politicians who appear on the corruption radar that are, apparently, immune from any kind of accountability.
It’s also bankers, property developers, civil servants, auditors, members of the legal community, and any other group or individual operating within the protective embrace of our corrupt political system.
Clifford finishes his article by telling us that democratic accountability demands that state authorities properly deal with the Lowry Tapes allegations.
Unfortunately for Ireland and its people such demands will have no impact whatsoever. The system is too rotten, too dysfunctional and too corrupt to take any effective action.
Nothing short of a radical cleansing of the entire corrupt political and administrative system will suffice to put the country on the road to a properly functioning democracy.