According to Sunday Times columnist, Justine McCarthy, Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea perjured himself in court.
O’Dea had denied in an affidavit that he had accused Maurice Quinlivan, a Sinn Fein local-election candidate, of owning a brothel.
He only admitted that his remarks were false and defamatory after a tape recording of his comments was produced.
This is very similar to the tactics employed by Bertie Ahern while giving evidence to the Tribunal regarding his dealings in Sterling.
Right up to the moment that documentary evidence was produced, Ahern consistently denied under oath that he had ever had any significant dealings in Sterling.
Let’s immediately cut to the chase here. In a functional democracy perjury is treated as a very serious crime. In a dysfunctional democracy, like Ireland, perjury is only treated as a serious crime for the little people.
People in power and influence are rarely, if ever, even accused of the crime never mind actually charged.
In a functional democracy like the UK, for example, allegations or suspicions of perjury by any citizen are immediately investigated by the police.
There’s no convenient ignoring of the crime by a judge, court or tribunal, there’s no talk about requesting the Prime Minister to ‘advise’ a politician who is under suspicion of committing perjury. There’s no changing the discussion to any other subject that comes to mind so long as it doesn’t focus on the reality of the situation.
No, in real democracies like the UK, when evidence emerges that the crime of perjury may have been committed the police investigate and prosecutions are taken as necessary.
The first thing that happens in a dysfunctional democracy like Ireland is – nothing. The powers that be simply pretend that nothing of significance has happened and hope that nobody notices.
We witnessed the same reaction in other cases like Jim Flavin of DCC or the Neary case. No action was taken by any Irish authority in these cases until somebody from outside the country acted.
O’Dea is alleged to have lied under oath last December and yet it was only when Justine McCarthy wrote her article nearly two months later that anything was done, once again everybody ignored the raging elephant until an outside source pointed it out.
The media and political reaction since the ‘expose’ has also been typical of a country that is incapable of facing reality when it doesn’t suit.
It must be kept in mind when reading the following examples that in a functional democracy there is only one reaction – an immediate investigation by police followed by prosecution if necessary.
The legal system
Nobody involved in the case seemed to take a blind bit of notice when a government minister made a false statement in a sworn affidavit. Compare this to Amanda McNamara who perjured herself because she was in absolute fear of her life about giving evidence in a brutal murder trial.
The judge in this case had no problem in identifying perjury saying that it was a very serious matter that undermined Ireland’s system of criminal justice. McNamara was given 100 hours community service and will have a criminal record for the rest of her life.
Fine Gael spokesman on Justice Eugene Regan demanded to know from Seanad Leader, Donnie Cassidy, if Minister O’Dea was being held to account for lying under oath (Irish Times).
Cassidy ignored the question, simply stating that O’Dea was an excellent public representative and the people of Limerick were very fortunate to have such a capable person. He, (Cassidy) then proceeded to talk about another matter altogether.
This is a typical – if I ignore reality, it will go away – reaction.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister O’Dea said it was a private and personal matter. This is despite the fact that O’Dea said in his sworn affidavit that he was fully entitled to raise the issue and make the allegations as a public representative.
Obviously there’s nothing private about this matter whatsoever. O’Dea, a government minister, defamed another politician in response to questions about his (O’Dea’s) large and expensive staff paid for by the taxpayer – and we’re asked to believe that it’s a private matter?
Even if it was a private matter, is the Prime Minister of our country suggesting that it’s ok for a government minister to make a false statement in a sworn affidavit so long as it relates to a private matter?
RTE, The Week in Politics (34 min)
Sean O’Rourke and Brian Dowling. (One RTE journalist interviewing another RTE journalist).
The fact that very serious allegations of perjury are facing a government minister was completely ignored by the journalists.
The entire discussion focused on the possible political implications for O’Dea if the matter became controversial. Brian Dowling suggested that because O’Dea was a huge vote getter there was unlikely to be any impact on his career.
The following points were made in this editorial.
The Taoiseach was in an invidious position because of the relaxed attitude adopted by his predecessors to ethical issues.
This is just silly logic suggesting that low standards in the past could act as a block to taking action in the present.
Because public confidence in authority had waned there was a need to promote high standards and ensure political accountability.
In real democracies such standards are the expected norm and not something that needs promoting.
The matter may create friction between the Coalition parties.
This is an irrelevant point unless the editor feels that government unity is more important than political, legal and ethical accountability.
This scandal and how it is being dealt with once again confirms that Ireland is nothing more than a dysfunctional, backwater state pretending to be a first world democracy.
3 thoughts on “Ireland: A country incapable of dealing with reality”
Good post but I think you’re wrong on the point re the IT editorial…
The following points were made in this editorial.
“The Taoiseach was in an invidious position because of the relaxed attitude adopted by his predecessors to ethical issues.”
– This is just silly logic suggesting that low standards in the past could act as a block to taking action in the present.
That is not the suggestion from the IT editor. It’s saying that the Taoiseach may use that situation, which – with Bertie being his predecessor, is true – to excuse himself from making a moral/ethical/legal decision. The IT is not saying it’s an acceptable situation, it’s saying the Taoiseach will attempt to make it one. “Well, Bertie did nothing so I can do nothing…” It’s saying the Taoiseach is in trouble because the ethical bar has been lowered by Bertie, thus Brian Cowen will have to raise it again. It’s not a moral outlook, it’s a political observation. And a correct one, Bertie took the bar underground, if anyone in FF is going to attempt to raise it they’re going to be resented by their colleagues.
“Because public confidence in authority had waned there was a need to promote high standards and ensure political accountability.”
– In real democracies such standards are the expected norm and not something that needs promoting.
Well then you’re in agreement. The IT clearly thinks there’s a need to promote political accountability and high standards, is thus imploring Brian Cowen to do so. You think there is no political accountability as there is no functional democracy thus something needs to be done to change that. Where you differ is how that change should come…
“The matter may create friction between the Coalition parties.”
– This is an irrelevant point unless the editor feels that government unity is more important than political, legal and ethical accountability.
Or unless the editor believes the Taoiseach believes that. It’s not irrelevant, it’s contextual. If friction doesn’t arise then it’s indicative that Greens don’t want to “promote public accountability in high office”.
You’re right about the News At One discussion being purely political as opposed to cirtical from a moral/legal/ethical standpoint.
After all said and done, I have looked at the irish statues regarding the issue of perjury. However, I cant seem to find where, or which form one might use to test the law so, the critical question is, does anyone know whether it possible to take out a private prosecution in a clear case of perjury, in the republic of Ireland?
It seems to be possible because I have seen it attempted. Unfortunately, the case failed on other procedural grounds, if I recall correctly. (My recall is imperfect, but I am quite certain that no objection was raised on the grounds that the prosecution of perjury was impossible).
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