The continuing scandal at FAS is not important. We have seen hundreds of such cases over the past few decades; we will see many more into the future. What is important is the response to the scandal because it gives us a clear indication of how bad things really are in this country.
Brian Cowen responded by defending his pal Rody Molloy. This tells us that Cowen’s much lauded intelligence and leadership skills amount to nothing more than that of a typical Fianna Fail backwoodsman who will remain loyal to his constituents to the death but has little understanding of what’s going on in the wider world.
Mary O’Rourke accepts that some of the things that happened in FAS were unacceptable but is absolutely sure that such things are not happening in any other Government department. This is arrogant stupidity on a massive scale.
Rody Molly believes it’s all a media conspiracy to bring down FAS. This is the defence of a desperate man running out of excuses.
Bernard Allen (FG) chair of the PAC refuses to comment because he doesn’t want to prejudge the outcome of PAC ‘investigation’. This is a standard response for politicians who don’t have the courage to challenge the corrupt system.
That corrupt system is specifically designed to go around in circles so that nobody is held accountable. The powerless PAC will carry out an investigation and pass on their findings to the powerless C&AG.
The C&AG will then conduct his own investigation and pass his findings to PAC. PAC will then call in FAS officials (again) to ask them meaningless questions and the bureaucrats will reply with meaningless answers.
The whole thing will be widely covered in the media for a few days and then forgotten.
But by far the most serious aspect of this scandal, which seems to have been overlooked by everybody, is the continuing and alarming tendency of civil servants to take on powers to which they are not entitled or at least should not be entitled.
Recently we had the absolute refusal by the FSAI to name the water company responsible for supplying contaminated water to the public thereby putting the health of consumers at risk.
Just yesterday we had yet another report from the financial ombudsman, Joe Meade, outlining the outrageous exploitation of consumers by renegade financial institutions. Yet, Mr. Meade steadfastly refuses to name these vultures thus allowing them a free hand to continue exploiting consumers.
The FAS case is even more serious. When Senator Ross first submitted his FOI he was told that it would cost him €1,000. Later, he was told that the cost would actually be about €200.
Senator Ross believes, and I agree with him, that the civil servant lied to him in an attempt to prevent the release of damning information.
In a functional democracy Senator Ross would have immediately realised the gravity of the situation and reported the civil servant to an appropriate authority who would have sacked the corrupt civil servant on the spot.