A disgraceful decision

In a functional democracy former Fianna Fail TD, Michael Collins would be facing at least five years in jail with fines and penalties running into millions.

In Ireland, he was let off with a 12 month suspended sentence and a pathetic €25,000 fine.

Judge Carroll Moran said that what Mr. Collins did was very serious, TD’s after all, he said make the laws of the land, including the tax laws and Mr. Collins had violated those laws.

The crimes committed by Collins are indeed serious but it is obvious that the judge is of the opinion that a man of Collins’ ‘calibre’ should not have to actually suffer the indignity of paying for his crimes.

Here are the excuses accepted and given by the judge. (My comments are in brackets).

Collins had settled his liabilities with the Revenue Commissioners.

(This was after Collins had turned his nose up at two amnesties in 1993 and 2001. Failure to comply with the 1993 amnesty carried a mandatory jail sentence. The word ‘mandatory’ is still not understood in Ireland).

He had suffered public disgrace, the humiliation of the court proceedings which had effectively ended his political career.

(Every citizen hauled before the courts suffers disgrace and humiliation. This excuse is invariably accepted by judges, when it involves a white collar criminal).

He also added that this was a severe punishment for a man in Mr. Collins’ position.

(This is an outrageous statement for a professional judge to make. It effectively confirms what many have often suspected, that there is one law for the rich and powerful and another for the poor).

Had there been no case he most likely would have stood for Fianna Fail in Limerick West and probably would have won.

(Again, this is an outrageous view to take. Are we to take it that a hardened criminal will also escape justice if he pleads that if it wasn’t for his crimes he would probable have joined the priesthood?).

He had severe health difficulties, diabetes, high blood pressure and severe anxiety. His doctor said that it could lead to a stroke if he was agitated and given a prison sentence.

(This excuse has the same credibility as the infantile ‘dog ate my homework’ plea. Again, this ridiculous excuse is almost always accepted when made by a white collar criminal. Neither does the judge explain how a man, with health problems so severe that he was in danger of a stroke, could fight a gruelling election campaign).

This case once again demonstrates that judges have little understanding of the damage done to society by corrupt politicians and even less understanding of the greater damage done when the legal system fails to properly punish white collar crime.