Functional democracy; immediate accountability

Following letter published in today’s Irish Times. (Sub. required)

Madam, – It has just been reported that Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, is to face a criminal investigation into his purchase of a property. The investigation was triggered when a government watchdog concluded that Mr Olmert had bought the property at well below market value.

In Israel, as in most Western democracies, where there is strong suspicion of political corruption police involvement is immediate. If sufficient evidence is revealed there is immediate court involvement. If a politician is found guilty there is immediate accountability.

In Ireland, no government watchdog has ever begun a criminal investigation against a politician. The Irish police do not investigate allegations of political corruption.

Instead of immediate accountability, Irish politicians and officials simply turn up at very expensive – and, for the most part, ineffective tribunals to inform the nation that they are suffering from amnesia.

There is not the remotest possibility that our Taoiseach will face an investigation that would make him immediately accountable despite failing to provide satisfactory answers to the many serious questions regarding his acceptance of large amounts of cash.

Recent polls and elections confirm that the majority of Irish citizens are very happy with this state of affairs and apparently have no worries about the serious consequences that inevitably follow when low standards in high places become the norm. – Yours, etc,

Anthony Sheridan