Pat Kenny is an experienced, well informed and articulate current affairs broadcaster.
It was therefore deeply depressing and indeed disturbing to witness his (unwitting) endorsement of our corrupt political system (Frontline, 18th October).
In response to a call from Niall Crowley of Claiming our Future for a more diverse participation in politics Kenny said:
We do have a very intimate relationship with our politicians, not like in Britain where you might not see your local MP from one end of the decade to the next.
Here, we can drop along on a Saturday or Sunday and meet all of our TDs. There is a real connection, whether they’ll do anything about what you say to them is another question, but we can meet them.
We can meet Bertie; we can meet Brian, go into a particular pub in Offaly on a Saturday night and meet Brian Cowen.
Crowley, rightly, responded that that’s not participation, it is clientelism and very dependent.
The brutal truth is that clientelism is the foundation on which our corrupt political system feeds and, in turn, infects every level of Irish society. It is the single biggest reason for the destruction of our country.
Clientelism has nothing to do with democracy, in fact, the practice destroys democracy. Citizens are forced into selling their vote in return for petty favours most of which they are already entitled to in any case.
Politicians, caught up in the corrupt, undemocratic circle, vie with each other in plundering state resources to pay for votes to maintain their power.
The buying and selling of votes/power then moves to other areas of public life. Bankers, businessmen, friends of the most powerful parties all pay their corrupt dues and are rewarded with grants, tax concessions and in very many cases allowed to openly operate outside the law.
To facilitate this widespread corruption and law breaking regulatory authorities are stripped of resources and/or ordered to desist from investigating friends of the powerful.
By destroying democracy clientelism reduces citizens to beggars, destroys national pride and national self esteem and results in a nation of politically ignorant citizens.
If Ireland had evolved into a real democracy the likes of Haughey, Ahern, Burke, Lawlor, Lowry et al would never have survived a single day. Most of them would have served time.
If Ireland had evolved into a real democracy bankers, developers and the many other so called professions would never have had the opportunity to indulge in their corrupt activities in pursuit of vast wealth.
All this activity, all this corruption, all this social and democratic destruction has one single origin – Clientelism.
The fact that somebody as influential as Pat Kenny sees this (corrupt and corrupting) system of clientelism as an integral and laudable part of our system of government is an indication of how far we have to go before the building of a new, and truly democratic, republic can begin.