Poor Albert

I see former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds was looking hale and hearty at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis despite been deemed unfit to give evidence at the Mahon Tribunal because he, apparently, suffers from a cognitive impairment.

Seems Albert has no problem making a speech when accepting the freedom of Cork, partying it up at the Galway races or joining in the rough and tumble at the Ard Fheis but when it comes to answering questions at the Mahon Tribunal poor Albert is, apparently, too sick.

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Too sick to tell the truth

I see former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds continues to enjoy a hale and hearty lifestyle (Nine News,12th report) despite been deemed unfit to give evidence at the Mahon Tribunal because he, apparently, suffers from a cognitive impairment.

His political colleague, the corrupt Haughey, successfully employed the ‘medical excuse’ for years in order to avoid accounting for his crimes.

As I recall, there was one occasion when Haughey was ‘too sick’ to give evidence but as soon as the ‘danger’ had passed he embarked on a world cruise. The State was more than generous in facilitating his lies.

Bertie (Can I trust you?) Ahern defended by his fans

Bertie fans are really coming out of the woodwork in response to the television documentary.

Jody Corcoran:

Corcoran, a fanatical fan, thinks that Ahern will come to regret his participation in what he describes as a ‘crude little series’. In this instance I agree with Corcoran. So far, the documentary paints Ahern in a very bad but truthful light so it’s not surprising that one of his most devoted fans is upset.

Willie (Groucho) O’Dea:

O’Dea approves of the documentary. He tells us that the series demonstrates that wealth and personal glory were not the motivating factors for Ahern’s career in politics. Mmm…perhaps all that money Bertie ‘won on the horses’ was donated to charity?

Amazingly, O’Dea actually makes a mild criticism of Haughey – “Haughey polarised, Bertie united.” He tells us. Such ‘courage’ from one of the fearful faithful? Methinks Willie will be receiving a visit some dark night from the great corrupter.

John Cooney: (Author of ‘Battleship Bertie’; Politics in Ahern’s Ireland)

Cooney is another fan although he does refer to Ahern as ‘the disgraced ex-Taoiseach’. He goes on to describe Ahern as a major figure in history, tells us that the nation nostalgically yearns for the vanished Golden Age of the Bertie Era. Well, that’s partially correct – there was a lot of vanished gold.

Cooney aligns himself with all those stupid people who ignore the facts and choose to believe the fairytale that the cunning Bertie got out of power because he knew what was coming down the line.

I say stupid people because if, as his admirers claim, Bertie was a world class leader, a man of the people, a patriot to his fingertips, surely he would have stayed on to lead the nation through the great crisis and out into the glory of yet another Golden Age? Instead, the fecker legged it.

Professor Richard Aldous (Head of History and Archives at UCD).

Never heard of this guy before but he’s certainly a Bertie fan. The professor tells us that the Mahon Tribunal will warrant a mere two paragraphs when history makes its judgement on Ahern.

“The first will be to recount the part the inquiry played in the downfall of a Taoiseach. The second paragraph will be to wonder at the democratic deficit involved in that process.”

Clearly, the professor believes that Ahern is an innocent man brought down by an evil tribunal. I wonder what influence this man has on young students.

Later, Aldous bizarrely and grotesquely equates Ahern’s leadership qualities with those of Barack Obama – Where’s that bucket?

Brendan O’Connor: (Sunday Independent columnist).

O’Connor is Ahern’s number one fan; there are times when I suspect that the columnist is actually in love with his hero. He agrees with Ahern’s ex wife that Bertie has ‘lovely eyes’.

O’Connor attacks all the usual suspects, that is, everybody who hasn’t sworn undying loyalty to the ward boss.

He regrets that the documentary felt the need to trot out all that boring nitty-gritty stuff about Ahern’s bank accounts; it destroyed what could have been a great epic, he tells us. Bertie, according to O’Connor, is a ‘flawed masterpiece.’

Like all the other Bertie fans O’Connor talks about the deep and mysterious Bertie, the man that nobody really knows, the man who doesn’t even know himself, the man who looks in the mirror every morning and asks himself – “Can I trust you?”

Given the culture of corruption and ruthless ambition in Fianna Fail I’d say that’s a question every TD in the party asks every moring as they look in the mirror.

Perfect man for the job

Distasteful as it was, I watched ‘Bertie’ the television documentary on the ex Taoiseach last night. Programmes like this are always useful in gaining insights into people like Ahern, insights that in the normal run of things are hidden by spin doctors and advisors.

For me, the most important insight from the programme was the confirmation that Ahern and his cronies deliberately set out to create a mafia in the Drumcondra area with the ultimate aim of making him Taoiseach. All Fianna Fail opposition in the area was ruthlessly wiped out. Ward bosses were established to ensure everybody knew their place and did as they were told.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Ahern and his cronies were successful; after all they were operating in a country that is itself run on mafia principles created by the corrupt Haughey in whose company Ahern learned his trade.

It is, however, always fascinating to observe journalists and other commentators ignore the fact that Ahern in nothing more than a street wise chancer who had a talent for exploiting the very low standards in Irish public life.

We are constantly told that we must wait for the Mahon Tribunal report before passing judgement on Ahern’s legacy. This, of course, is rubbish. The Carruth/sterling evidence tells us all we need to know about Ahern’s pedigree.

The facts are simple. Ahern and his secretary, Grainne Carruth, swore under oath that Ahern never dealt in sterling. Both gave their evidence in the (mistaken) belief that no bank records existed to disprove their claims.

When irrefutable evidence was produced Carruth broke down and admitted her lies. Ahern, having used every excuse in the book, was reduced to the last refuge of gangsters and drug dealers – ‘I won it on the gee gees m’lord’.

It was at this moment that Ahern should have lost all credibility; it was at this moment that he should have become a figure of contemptuous fun and an object of police investigation. Instead, he was elevated to the status of great statesman and will retain that status for so long as Ireland remains a dysfunctional society unable to face reality.

Even if Mahon finds that Ahern committed perjury it won’t matter. No action will ever be taken against him, it will make no difference to his onward march to sainthood and it is very likely that he will achieve his ultimate ambition – to be president of this banana republic when we celebrate one hundred years of inefficiency, incompetence and corruption. In that respect, he’s the perfect man for the job.

Ahern has nothing to worry about

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has submitted his resignation letter to the country’s President, Shimon Peres. Olmert is under investigation by police on corruption charges.

Bertie Ahern, who is suspected of far more serious crimes, is not being investigated by the police and nobody would even think of using the word ‘corruption’ when reporting on the allegations against him.

Immediately after resigning Ahern was hailed as a great statesman and all thoughts of making him accountable in Dail Eireann were forgotten.

Enda Kenny called for a general election and was roundly condemned by all and sundry. The general consensus, even among the media, was that this was Bertie’s day and any criticism was crass and unwarranted. Even Kenny’s party colleagues maintained an embarrassed silence.

By resigning Ahern became untouchable because there’s no State authority capable or willing to make him accountable. The tribunal farce will run its course but no matter what conclusions it reaches Ahern’s status as a hero will not be affected.

During a media interview after his last appearance at the tribunal Ahern said he had nothing to worry about – He’s absolutely right, he hasn’t.

Manipulated and discredited law

My posting ‘Two Views’ was a comment on the ridiculous practice of prosecuting people because they had broken what is effectively a religious law. Michael Kelly makes an equally valid point, strongly supported by comments, that judges should not be allowed to pick and choose which laws are to be applied.

The existence of medieval like religious laws and the casual attitude to law in general are simply reflections of the kind of country we live in.

Here are just a few examples.

The Beef Tribunal uncovered massive fraud and corruption within the Irish meat industry. Apart from a few minor officials who received a slap on the wrist nobody was made accountable. The only person to be charged, for refusing to reveal her sources, was Susan O’Keeffe the Granada Television reporter who broke the story.

It would have been extremely embarrassing for Ireland if O’Keeffe was found guilty after the tribunal whitewash had exonerated all those who were actually guilty. A legal technicality was conveniently discovered and O’Keeffe was acquitted.

It is almost certain that Bertie Ahern committed perjury at the Mahon Tribunal. The facts are simple. He stated under oath that he never dealt in significant amounts of sterling. The tribunal produced irrefutable evidence that Ahern’s statement was untrue.

In a functional democracy it wouldn’t matter that the tribunal was ongoing, it wouldn’t matter that the alleged perjurer was Prime Minister, immediate police and legal action would have been taken.

The conflict between Irish Times journalists Geraldine Kennedy and Colm Keena and the Mahon Tribunal over the disclosure of sources is still unresolved nearly a year after the event.

It is a very serious case where the journalists openly admit that they destroyed evidence despite being ordered not to do so by the Tribunal. It doesn’t matter that the journalists are, at least, morally right, it doesn’t matter that the tribunal is ongoing.

If Ireland was a country where the law enjoyed the same respect as it does in functional democracies both these journalists would long ago have been made accountable for their actions.

These cases and countless other examples ranging across every level of society demonstrate that Ireland is not like any other Western democracy, that Ireland is a country where the law is manipulated to suit events and circumstances rather than acting as a protector of society in general.

Politicians, journalists, expensive wines and objectivity

Recently, Irish Independent journalist Liam Collins had dinner with former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds at the luxurious, five stars, Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin 4.

Collins expressed shock at how expensive the wine was but Reynolds with a (royal?) wave of his hand replied.

“Don’t mind that, I haven’t bought you a drink in a long time, just pick something you like.”

Collins doesn’t say if his friend Albert also paid for the meal but I think it’s a safe bet that he did.

Given Collins’ close and rewarding friendship with Reynolds it was no surprise that the journalist went on to lavish praise on the former Taoiseach while severely castigating those who would dare question his hero’s honesty and integrity.

According to Collins the Mahon Tribunal is nothing better than a long-winded Star Chamber, an expensive charade, a sad blood sport for those with nothing better to do.

And those who still show interest in the tribunal are nothing but a “gaggle of old age pensioners with nothing better to do with their lives and a few anoraks’ from RTE.

It really is disturbing to witness large sections of the Irish media progressively lose their objectivity as a result of their very close friendships with politicians and in particular with politicians who would see such cosy relationships as a distinct advantage when they are under pressure to answer very serious questions.

Copy to:
Liam Collins

Reynolds – Haughey fellow traveller?

For many years the cowardly and corrupt Haughey hid behind sick notes from his doctors to avoid making himself accountable before the tribunals.

Invariably, soon after every ‘health crisis’ we would see photographs of Haughey cruising in the Mediterranean or supping champagne at one function or another. Albert Reynolds, if seems, has adopted the same strategy.

It has been reported that Reynolds is unable to answer tribunal questions due to a ‘significant cognitive impairment’. This condition, among other things, involves memory loss. On that basis it is safe to say that practically every politician and businessman appearing before the tribunals is suffering from severe cognitive impairment.

It may be that Reynolds is genuinely unable to give evidence due to health problems but when I see pictures of him accepting the freedom of Cork and living it up at the Galway races I have only one thought – Haughey fellow traveler.

Ahern and Dunlop

I have often wondered at the relationship between Bertie Ahern and Frank Dunlop. It is a relationship Ahern rarely if ever mentions. But it is one that was more or less constant in the early 1990s. Ahern has always said he never received “even a drink of water” from Owen O’Callaghan.

But O’Callaghan rarely gave money himself (except that 100k cheque to FF via Des Richardson, and other amounts to some councillors). Usually Dunlop did the money-giving. And in the early 90s, Dunlop was meeting Ahern very regularly.

Today’s evidence surrounding Ahern, Chilton O’Connor (O’Callaghan’s bankers and Liam Lawlor’s son was an employee), Dunlop and O’Callaghan makes for very interesting reading. One of my favourite bits was the meeting in November 1994 between Ahern, O’Callaghan and Bill O’Connor about the proposed stadium at Neilstown.

Ahern told O’Callaghan “he was wasting his time”. (Q539) O’Callaghan asked him why that was. “He said that for a start our location was on the wrong side of the Liffey.” This was despite Ahern’s meeting in LA earlier that year with Chilton O’Connor, which apparently occurred without the knowledge of O’Callaghan.

Of course, this is O’Callaghan’s version of the meeting. Ahern claims that it was far less important. A letter later sent by Bill O’Connor to Ahern was in a positive light, and did not show any disappointment that Ahern had dismissed it out of hand.