Facing the most appalling reality

In my previous post concerning the conflict between the Mahon Tribunal and the Irish Times I mentioned the tendency in Ireland to fudge difficult situations in order to avoid facing uncomfortable realities.

This is a crucial factor in a dysfunctional democracy like Ireland. Our entire way of doing things is finely balanced on the pretence that we are just like any other accountable Western democracy.

Within hours an expert media lawyer was providing just such fudge on the RTE Six One News (2nd item).

Michael Keeley, after first explaining how European law was way ahead of Irish law in allowing journalists freedom of expression, suggested that perhaps there was some ‘wriggle room’ to resolve what he described as this major constitutional crisis.

He suggested that if the journalists gave an assurance that the leak didn’t originate from the Mahon Tribunal then perhaps a compromise could be reached.

If this or any other fudge is utilised and accepted then the High Court, the tribunal, the journalists, the Government and Irish society in general can all pretend that the law wasn’t really broken and happily return to the fiction that we live in a real democracy.

In a real democracy the High Court would insist on the law being respected in its entirety, the tribunal would insist that the source of the leak be revealed and the journalists would be thrown in jail if they persisted in standing by their principles.

This would force the Government to deal with the reality of the situation by bringing Irish law into line with European law where journalists are given extra protection to protect their sources thus making them more effective in exposing corruption.

But then again, if journalists were allowed to be more effective in exposing corruption, Irish society would be in danger of having to face the most appalling reality of all – that Ireland is a corrupt state.