Private (and) confidential

The illegal activities of Government Minister, Pat the Cope Gallagher, serve as a perfect example of how things are done (or not done) in this corrupt state. No anger, no accountability, no reaction (to my knowledge) apart from posts on this website and my letter to the Irish Times. (Below).

Madam, – Ireland is the kind of country where a Government Minister, Pat the Cope Gallagher, can break the law in an apparent effort to gain cheap publicity in the run-up to a general election (The Irish Times, April 16th).
It is the kind of country where the authority responsible for repairing the damage, at the taxpayers’ expense, is accused of being “overly vigilant” by the same Minister.
It is the kind of country where there is no outrage, no widespread reporting/analysis of his actions, no questions asked by his fellow politicians and not even a hint that he might be sacked or face any consequences as a result of his behaviour.
It is the kind of country where cute hoorism and political irresponsibility is the norm rather than the exception.
It is the kind of country of which I am ashamed to be a citizen. – Yours, etc,

In a follow up on the matter I rang Dublin City Council to enquire if Minister Gallagher was fined for his illegal activity. The conversation went as follows: (Emphasis’ are mine)

Spokesperson: Nobody is above the law as far as we are concerned, so you needn’t think that we treat anybody more favourably than others. We treat everybody as equal.

Me: What’s the procedure when somebody is guilty of something like that?

Spokesperson: First, a fine of €125 would issue, if the fine is not paid legal proceedings would follow.

Me: That would hardly put a dent in the Minister’s petty cash.

Spokesperson: Depends on how many fines we issue. We could fine for each poster.

Me: Has any action been taken against him?

Spokesperson: That part is actually confidential.

Me: Why is that?

Spokesperson: But listen to what I’m saying in between. This would be the type of answer you’re looking for; it’s open to us to issue a fine.

Me: No, That’s not what I’m looking for; I’m not looking for a nod nod wink wink reply that might indicate that the Minister may have been made accountable. I’m looking to challenge the system to see if it properly brings law breakers to account.

Spokesperson: I don’t discuss anybody’s fines; it’s a matter between Dublin City Council and the person who caused the offence.

Me: Are you making that decision or is it based on a legal requirement?

Spokesperson: That is the policy of this office.

Me: Where does that policy come from?

Spokesperson: It’s my policy.

Me: I do not accept that.

Spokesperson: That’s fine, if you want to go further, that’s fine.

The crucial point of this conversation was reached when the spokesperson based her refusal to answer a question on her own personal office policy of ‘confidentiality’.

This is not to accuse this particular person of being dishonest or corrupt. It is, however, to assert that she operates in a corrupt system whereby strategies are employed to avoid answering questions.

Firstly, the softly softly re-assuring approach; ‘nobody is above the law etc. Then the wink wink strategy; I’m not going to give you an answer but here’s a strong hint that we can make wrong-does accountable if we have a mind to and finally, when all else fails, the most common and most powerful strategy of a corrupt state was invoked – It’s confidential, it’s a state secret, you are a non entity, a mere citizen and we don’t have to tell you anything.

After a couple of days trying I eventually got through to a higher authority. I was point blankly refused answers. When I asked for the legal basis of this refusal I was told to put my questions in writing. When I asked what regulation required citizens to put questions in writing on such simple matters, the spokesperson just kept repeating – Put it in writing.

Obviously this is going to take time but I will update as things develop.

It is important to remember that my question is very simple. Was the Minister fined and if so, by how much? Simple, you would think.