Even for a country as corrupt as Ireland, the events of Tuesday 19th January represent a dark day for our country.
At the very moment that Jim Flavin and DCC were being let off with an €83 million fraud on the stock market our national parliament was initiating an inquiry into the banking crisis that will, without a shadow of doubt, result in the same farcical result.
On the same day I was in Dublin with my nephew, Gavin, to attend a meeting by Transparency International (Ireland) on the subject of protecting whistleblowers in Ireland. (Gavin created and maintains this website and also writes, campaigns and helps maintain Gavin’s Blog, The Story and Kildare St.).
What struck me about the meeting was, as far as I could ascertain, not a single ordinary citizen was present. My impression was that everybody present was there because they were victims of state corruption, had a personal agenda of their own or were involved in fighting corruption.
And this is the problem. Despite all the good work of organisations like Transparency International (Ireland), journalists like Fintan O’Toole, Tom Clonan and Justine McCarthy and despite the courage of whistleblowers who risk everything in an effort to bring about change, meetings like this, I am sad to say, are really a waste of time.
The disease of corruption in Ireland has become so bad, has become so ingrained in the administration of the country that campaigns like this are, as I said to Gavin in discussion, like trying to knock down a six foot thick brick wall with a soft rubber ball.
The vast majority of Irish citizens are angry over a whole range of events but that anger is not focused, it’s not being harnessed by visionary and courageous leadership.
Coupled with this lack of leadership is the chronic political ignorance of most Irish citizens. Because of the corrupt system of clientelism most Irish people believe that power comes from the top down instead of from the people up.
They believe the system works by selling votes to the local politician in return for a favour. This is why corrupt politicians continue to be voted in time after time.
Irish voters are almost completely incapable of making the connection between voting for a corrupt politician and the damage that that decision causes to the country and the rest of its citizens.
For so long as this situation continues campaigns like that of TI will make little or no progress and have no affect whatsoever on the brick wall of Irish corruption.
That’s why those who operate within the corrupt body politic have no fear of organisations like TI, they are (justifiably) confident that they are untouchable.
There is only one solution to the problem and that is to knock down the brick wall. The political and administrative system that has destroyed this country must itself be brought down.
The first step in that process must be the destruction of the present corrupt political system and that will require immediate and radical action.
I have no idea what form that action should be nor do I have in mind a potential leadership but I have no doubt whatsoever that those of us who want change, who passionately want to root out the rot will still be attending genuine but ultimately useless meetings in twenty years time unless such radical action occurs.
Just before the meeting came to an end Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar made a short speech before excusing himself to attend a meeting with Paul Appleby of ODCE.
The announcement made at that meeting tells us all we need to know about how rotten our democracy is and will be the subject of my next posting.