Morning Ireland (2nd report) did a piece on the arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat.
The presenter, Cathal MacCoille (I think) expressed astonishment at Blagojevich’s sheer brass neck. The whole tone of MacCoille’s response seemed to be – How could Blagojevich think he could get away with such blatant corruption?
On Wednesday last, former Fianna Fail Councillor Michael Fahy was yet again found guilty of defrauding Galway County Council of €7,055.
Here’s a brief but truly astonishing outline of Fahy’s case.
2001/2002 – Fahy defrauded Galway County Council of €7,055. His crime didn’t come to immediate notice because the then county manager, Donal O’Donaghue, decided to deal with the matter behind closed doors. O’Donaghue has never been brought to account for his part in concealing the crime.
2004 – An FOI by the Irish Independent brought the matter out in the open and the Garda were informed.
2007 – Fahy was found guilty, sentenced to one year in jail and fined €75,000. The presiding judge described Fahy as
“An arrogant, greedy and determined fraudster”, who had “knowingly implicated” Thomas Byrne, “a totally innocent man”, leaving him open to “vilification and ruin” if the truth had not emerged.”
2007 (Sep) – Galway County Council held a meeting and decided, unanimously, to ignore the law. They all agreed to pretend that Fahy wasn’t in jail at all and further agreed to the fraudster’s request that his absence was due to “illness and his attendance in Dublin”. Fahy received his full representative pay of just over €16,600 despite spending seven months behind bars.
The law concerning Cllr. Fahy’s behaviour couldn’t be clearer.
(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person is disqualified from being elected or co-opted to, or from being a member of a local authority if he or she—
(i) fraudulent or dishonest dealings affecting a local authority.
(ii) corrupt practice.
2007 (Dec) – Fahy received a warm welcome from his fellow councillors when he attended his first meeting a week after his release from jail. At the meeting the fraudster delivered a strong speech deploring the rise in crime in recent times.
“It is just not good enough that people who are out at the shops or at Mass come home to find their houses ransacked. The people who do this sort of crime need to be caught and punished.”
His speech was greeted with enthusiastic applause. (Yes, yes, I know, but really, it’s all true)
2008 (Feb) – I’m not sure what happened next but it seems that a some point Fahy was acquitted of all charges and this prompted the DPP to re-enter the charges against the councillor.
Fianna Fail Senator Terry Leyden was very angry. This man is being persecuted for ‘doing his duty’, it’s a waste of public funds; this man has suffered enough, he should be left alone, thundered the Senator.
2008 (Dec) – Fahy was again found guilty of robbing €7,055 from Galway County Council. The presiding judge called on Fahy to ‘act with honour’ and resign adding that
“Fraud by a public representative attacks the very essence of our democracy and erodes public trust in our elected representatives,”
‘Attacks the very essence of our democracy’?
Fahy received widespread sympathy and support from local citizens and politicians and has only received minimal attention in the media.
Apart from this website and the judge, I know of no other person, organisation or official who has condemned Fahy’s behaviour.
Perhaps this is because the essence of Irish democracy has long since died.
Galway County Council