The manner in which the Today with Pat Kenny Show (Friday) handled the latest serious developments at the Mahon Tribunal is also a good indication of how blind we are to what we are.
Again, it was all journalists talking to each other. No Government minister to defend or explain to the people of Ireland what was going to happen as a result of the very serious allegations made by the Prime Minister and others.
The matter wasn’t even mentioned until the 53rd minute when we had yet another report from a journalist.
My point is that if Ireland was a functional democracy this story would have eclipsed all others for days and within days there would have been serious developments for the politicians who made the allegations or for the tribunal itself.
But apart from the reports from Dublin Castle all we got was yet another analysis by a cabal of journalists. There was, however, a very interesting and telling exchange during this debate which demonstrated just how far removed many Irish people are, including journalists, from admitting that Ireland is a corrupt state.
The discussion had turned to the situation in South Africa and the possible consequences for South Africa after the election of Jacob Zuma as leader of the African National Congress. Zuma is seen by many as a dodgy character and could soon be in court on corruption charges.
Pat Kenny referred to Zuma as a Dell Boy character and expressed the view that he would bring his country into disrepute and make the leadership a laughing stock.
Michael O’Regan of the Irish Times who had earlier expressed sympathy for Bertie Ahern and the difficult time he was having spoke of Zuma in an altogether different tone.
“I find him quite sinister, the fact alone that he’s facing corruption charges in the New Year I would have thought precluded him from any kind of public office. He’s quite dangerous, I would have thought.”
When RTE journalist, Katie Hannon, made the obvious connection between Zuma and Ahern O’Regan defended the Taoiseach by claiming he wasn’t facing corruption charges. Hannon replied that neither was Zuma, as yet.
The very fact that a young country like South Africa actually puts corrupt politicians on trial in a proper court of law means that they are light years ahead in their understanding and acceptance of what corruption actually is.
Many Irish people, including journalists like Michael O’Regan, exist in a world of denial where corruption is an activity that only occurs in other countries.