Defending Bertie Ahern

“Chaos and confusion is being created willfully and wrongly by the most senior and powerful figures in the State.”

The above quote is how Bruce Arnold sums up his article on the reaction of some Government ministers to the latest developments at the Mahon Tribunal. His views are largely in line with my own (See previous two posts).

Ireland is the only country in the Western world where Government ministers could launch a cynical and dishonest attack on the very foundations of the State in an effort to defend a politician who received vast sums of cash from wealthy businessmen.

Corruption? Not in Ireland

The manner in which the Today with Pat Kenny Show (Friday) handled the latest serious developments at the Mahon Tribunal is also a good indication of how blind we are to what we are.

Again, it was all journalists talking to each other. No Government minister to defend or explain to the people of Ireland what was going to happen as a result of the very serious allegations made by the Prime Minister and others.

The matter wasn’t even mentioned until the 53rd minute when we had yet another report from a journalist.

My point is that if Ireland was a functional democracy this story would have eclipsed all others for days and within days there would have been serious developments for the politicians who made the allegations or for the tribunal itself.

But apart from the reports from Dublin Castle all we got was yet another analysis by a cabal of journalists. There was, however, a very interesting and telling exchange during this debate which demonstrated just how far removed many Irish people are, including journalists, from admitting that Ireland is a corrupt state.

The discussion had turned to the situation in South Africa and the possible consequences for South Africa after the election of Jacob Zuma as leader of the African National Congress. Zuma is seen by many as a dodgy character and could soon be in court on corruption charges.

Pat Kenny referred to Zuma as a Dell Boy character and expressed the view that he would bring his country into disrepute and make the leadership a laughing stock.

Michael O’Regan of the Irish Times who had earlier expressed sympathy for Bertie Ahern and the difficult time he was having spoke of Zuma in an altogether different tone.

“I find him quite sinister, the fact alone that he’s facing corruption charges in the New Year I would have thought precluded him from any kind of public office. He’s quite dangerous, I would have thought.”

When RTE journalist, Katie Hannon, made the obvious connection between Zuma and Ahern O’Regan defended the Taoiseach by claiming he wasn’t facing corruption charges. Hannon replied that neither was Zuma, as yet.

The very fact that a young country like South Africa actually puts corrupt politicians on trial in a proper court of law means that they are light years ahead in their understanding and acceptance of what corruption actually is.

Many Irish people, including journalists like Michael O’Regan, exist in a world of denial where corruption is an activity that only occurs in other countries.

New website

In an effort to put together at least some of the complex material coming from the Mahon Tribunal, I have established a wiki. It is available at Mahon Tribunal.

I hope to use wiki software to organise information relating to the work of the tribunal, and provide context and data to help people better understand it. I have also added Google Maps features so people have a better understanding of the lands involved in rezoning, that are at the centre of the most recent investigations. I hope to identify the exact lands in question in due course.

Transcripts will also be made more easily available, and easier to find.

It is a mammoth task, but work will continue slowly and methodically.

Liars all – Except Bertie

Bertie Ahern has already effectively called the former director of NCB, Padraic O’Connor, a liar.

He has also turned on Fianna Fail fundraiser, Des Richardson for his part in preparing a dummy invoice to allegedly ‘hide’ the money given to Ahern by NCB (Irish Independent).

Now, in his increasing desperation, he has also effectively accused former CEO of the National Lottery, John Hynes, of lying.

Ahern, through a spokesperson, claims that the Department of Finance was not asked to approve the National Lottery’s decision to open exploratory talks between the National Lottery and a US-backed casino operator in the early 1990s (Irish Times, sub req’d).

The spokesperson said that the Department of Finance was “merely advised after the event” about the contacts between the State lottery and the casino company.

So, once again, nothing whatsoever to do with ‘innocent Bertie’, he only learned of the matter afterwards.

John Hynes is, however, adamant that he did get approval. “I’m standing over my claim that I did get ministerial approval I worked through the dept at all times, I was well known for that modus operandi.” (Morning Ireland, 3rd item).

Tantalizingly, Hynes added;

“I would have related to the dept on the matter and as I mentioned in the article there was a Mr. Robert White present at some of the meetings and I was well aware the he was well connected to Fianna Fail and I believe connected to deputy Ahern.”

Who is this Mr. White and what was his function at the meetings?

The pity of Eoghan Harris

There was a time when Eoghan Harris was a brilliant, clear thinking, analytical journalist. He was also an impressive strategist as evidenced by the critical part he played in the election of Mary Robinson as the first woman president of Ireland in 1990.

Sadly, for reasons that genuinely puzzle me, he now exists in the same ‘Alice in Wonderland’ world populated by Bertie Ahern and all those who actually believe that he’s an honest politician.

Interviewed on RTEs News at One (2nd item) Harris blasted all and sundry for their part in an evil conspiracy to bring down the greatest Taoiseach in Irish history. Here’s a flavour of his rant.

The evil leader of this conspiracy is the Irish Daily Mail, not just because it’s an organ of the media but its British – attacking a great Irish leader. Morning Ireland, the Irish Independent and the Irish Times are all co-conspirators.

The Mahon Tribunal is deliberately trying to do down this great Irish patriot and is populated by greedy lawyers led by a tax avoiding judge. The whole surreal operation should have been shut down years ago.

The attack on our glorious leader is akin to the McCarthy era in America, the Stalinist era in Russia, led by a lying British based newspaper with a very bad track record in relation to the fascist appeasement before the war. (Feck, where did that come from?)

This campaign is tainting Irish politics, Irish politics is being corrupted by this endless diet of sensation hunting (No, really, he said that).

Cowardly Fianna Fail politicians should take courage and defend the great leader by absolutely refusing to talk to the media. All political parties should now stand up to this sick journalism.

Phew! What passion, what loyalty – what a pity?

Mafia country

Padraic O’Connor, the former director of NCB has stated that he is not and never was a friend of Bertie Ahern’s. In spite of this Ahern is adamant that they were very good friends. In effect, Ahern is calling O’Connor a liar. It’s as if O’Connor said that black is black and Ahern retorted, no; black is white.

This kind of fantasy world speak is common throughout all of Ahern’s evidence to the Tribunal. Only a fool would believe he is telling the truth and only someone from Mars would be in any doubt as to what really happened.

So why is he still the Prime Minister, why isn’t he being questioned by the police, why is it that, as sure as black is black, Ahern will never be brought to account for any of his actions?

Less than a week ago it emerged that the UK Labour Party had received large donations from a businessman using middlemen to pass on the money.

The next day there was a resignation. Three days later an opposition politician asked the police to investigate the matter. To my knowledge this has never happened in Ireland despite years of rampant political and business corruption.

Four days later the UK Electoral Commission also asked the police to investigate. The Irish equivalent, The Standards in Public Office Commission is debarred by law from initiating an investigation until it first receives a formal complaint.

This commission is a joke. The law debarring the commission from acting seems to have had only one function – to assist and protect the corrupt.

The reason Ahern will not be brought to account is because Ireland is a corrupt state. There is no authority in Ireland with the power, will or courage to bring rogue politicians or corrupt businessmen to justice.

This is why corrupt politicians like Haughey and Burke can successfully live out careers of rampant corruption doing untold damage to Ireland and its people.

It’s the reason politicians like Lorcan Allen can go on RTE and arrogantly admit that he doesn’t bother with obeying the law.

He knows with absolute certainty that nobody, no authority in the land can touch him. Allen is merely doing what any ruthless and unprincipled politician will do when he knows that the country he operates in is a corrupt entity. He allows his greed and arrogance full rein despite the massive damage done to society by his actions.

Jim Flavin of DCC possesses the same arrogant confidence that is common to those who know they are untouchable.

Found guilty (2nd item) of insider trading by the highest court in the land, a crime that sees long jail sentences in real democracies, Flavin knows he has nothing to worry about, he knows that there is no authority in the land that will take any serious action against him, he knows that the pathetic attempts by the ODCE to make him accountable are just that – pathetic.

Financial institutions and in particular the banks have robbed millions from consumers over the years. Not a single bank official has ever been questioned by the police. The banks too are supremely confident that they operate in a country where the system is specifically geared to protect their criminal behaviour.

The so called Irish Financial Regulator is a joke, it monotonously issues just one piece of advice to consumers –shop around. You want advice on buying a car, a house, a condom, a politician, the regulator has the answer – shop around.

In the meantime it enthusiastically enforces a secrecy law that forbids any consumer from knowing which financial institution is engaged in criminal activity and which, if any, is honest.

Nobody has even hinted that Ahern should resign or be fired for his behaviour. The only discussion that comes near to any possible consequences is that he might have damaged his chances of landing a job in Europe or that the controversy might damage his legacy – that’s it.

A Prime Minister who, when he was Minister for Finance, accepted very large amounts of cash from ‘friends and businessmen’ who insults the intelligence of all thinking Irish citizens with his ‘Alice in Wonderland’ explanations is not expected to resign, not expected to be accountable, not even expected to come up with a decent lie.

Let’s be absolutely clear about the situation. Ireland is not a normal country, it is not like any other Western democracy. It is a country run more along the lines of a mafia operation than a modern democratic state. It is a country where the powerful can do as they wish without the slightest fear that they will face justice.

David Cameron, leader of the UK Conservative Party speaking about the ongoing scandal said;

“There is a time in the life of every government when it slips over from complacency into arrogance, and from arrogance into even indifference for the law”.

To paraphrase him, I would say: There is a time in the life of many states when they slip over from the democratic process and become a country that operates principally for the benefit of the rich and powerful.

The corrupt Haughey began that process in the 1980s and his faithful and admiring protégé Bertie Ahern, has been successfully following his masters low standards ever since.

Copy to:

Fianna Fail
Standards in Public Office Commission
Financial Regulator
Dept. of Finance

Mansergh cover up

Fianna Fail TD Martin Mansergh has contradicted the evidence given today at the Mahon Tribunal by Air Corps Brigadier General Ralph James. The evidence concerns an official visit by the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, to the Bahamas in 1994

Mansergh, who was on the trip as a special advisor to Reynolds said the three day visit was a formal trip and not an unscheduled diversion. On The Last Word (Today FM) Mansergh is reported as saying the general’s evidence was based on faulty recollection.

But in his usual sly and underhand way Mansergh is not telling the whole truth.

Brigadier General James did not claim that the trip to the Bahamas was unscheduled. He did, however, claim that there was an unscheduled flight from Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, to the island of Freeport North of the capital.

This unscheduled flight was specifically requested by Reynolds who spent six hours on the island. There is no record of what he was up to for those six hours.

It is clear that Mansergh has no scruples about calling into question the reliability of James’ evidence in an apparent attempt to cover up for Reynolds.

The relevant transcript from the Tribunal is worth reading. Questions 90 – 127 and specifically questions 96 – 98.

Mysterious stop over

The cigar smoking, greasy mustached general accompanied the dictator out on to the runway where the Government jet was ready for take off. His Excellency was on his way to attend a very important meeting where the price of bananas was top of the agenda.

Before boarding the general reminds his Excellency about ‘the other business’ he must attend to after his very important meeting. The dictator thanks the general and promises to promote him to Field Marshal on his return.

The very important meeting went well, much business was done and the dictator boarded his jet for the return flight. Two hours into the flight the pilot is instructed to divert to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, the pilot is new to the job and unfamiliar with the ways of the world; he protests;

“But your Excellency; I must follow the flight plan and take you safely back to our glorious republic.”

After a couple of clatters around the head and a threat that his family would be forced to join Fine Gael, the pilot does what he’s told.

The dictator is in a hurry, only spending six hours in the Bahamas attending to ‘the other business’, before continuing his journey home.

After all he has been away nearly a week now and his people must surely be suffering from the absence of his great leadership.


Brigadier General Ralph James was one of those giving some very interesting evidence to the Mahon Tribunal today.

It seems that the then Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, made an unscheduled flight to the island of Freeport while on an official visit to the Bahamas in 1994. He was returning from St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the US.

Former developer Tom Gilmartin has alleged that Reynolds collected $1 million in New York, Boston and Chicago that year but that only $70,000 made it to the Fianna Fail party.

The general said there was no reason recorded for the unofficial flight.

Living in Bertieland

Gene Kerrigan, in form, as ever:

In the real world — imagine it’s your home or mine — suppose you’re asked how come thirty grand in sterling ended up in your account.

Imagine explaining that to your partner, let alone a tribunal.

In Bertieland, when thirty grand in sterling ended up in his account he said, “I had some cash saved, so I bought sterling to pay this guy back, then I decided I didn’t have to, so . . . ”

And then he’s told that can’t be true, because in that period no one bought that amount of sterling. So, he says, maybe he bought it in installments, at different banks.

Which ones? Well, maybe he didn’t buy it, maybe he was busy so he got someone else to do it. Who? Can’t remember.

Imagine that conversation in your house. You’d be in big trouble, right?

In Bertieland, Brian Cowen totally believes that story. Not a blush out of him. Brian Lenihan is convinced. Mary Hanafin, Micheal Martin — not a dickybird from any of them. In Bertieland, this story is entirely unremarkable.

Yet, despite this supine adulation from his peers; despite his €38,000 rise; despite having 10 years to implement his political agenda, Mr Ahern continues to whine.