I see the Italians are to put former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on trial for alleged fraud. He faces charges of embezzlement, false accounting, tax fraud and money laundering. These alleged crimes are not much different from the activities of former Irish Prime Minister, Charles Haughey.
While Berlusconi was in power, he introduced a law that gave him protection from such charges but only months after losing that power, the Italian system has moved to make him accountable.
Haughey, on the other hand was never brought to justice for his crimes and indeed was permitted to live out his final years in luxury, enjoying the fruits of his corruption. This criminal was even given a state funeral during which the present Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern described him (Haughey) as
“a patriot to his fingertips”.
The difference between the two countries is simple. Italy, seen by many as the most corrupt state in Europe, has faced up to the fact that corruption is a massively corrosive disease that eats away at the very fabric of a decent society. In recent years, the Italian authorities have taken strong and courageous action to combat the disease, especially against the mafia.
Unfortunately, the Irish system is still labouring under the delusion that Ireland is a first world, democratically accountable country when in fact it is nothing more than a ‘well to do’ Banana Republic where corrupt former prime ministers are honoured with State funerals.