Cleaning House

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From top: Anne Marie McNally and from left: Fintan O’Toole, Anne Marie and Catherine Murphy TD at the Spa Hotel, Lucan last night; Anne Marie

In the fight against corruption in Irish politics It’s them versus us.

Anne Marie McNally writes:

How do we do things differently? That is the question I posed to a room full of people in Lucan last night as I hosted a public meeting on the topic of corruption in Irish public life.

From 1974’s Commission of Investigation into the Dublin Monaghan Bombings, through the 1980’s phone tapping scandal and Kerry babies scandal, on into the 1990’s plethora of scandals ranging from the Beef Inquiry, the Mahon Tribunal, the Flood Tribunal, the Ansbacher scandal and a host of others I don’t have the word count to mention.

Then we move through the noughties with Haughey/Lowry/Ahern controversies, FÁS expenses, Moriarty Tribunal, now the Cregan Inquiry and blah de blah de blah. We could pretty much map out the political history in Ireland by making a timeline of the corruption scandals that have hit the sitting administrations of the day.

And that’s before you even count in the lower level, yet no less significant, stuff happening at local authority level, town council level and even community level. My point is corruption and malpractice is pretty much endemic in our system. It’s not a new feature and it’s certainly not something that we should be inexperienced in dealing with.

Yet here we are in the height of confusion about how we should proceed with the [Justice Brian] Cregan Inquiry [into certain IBRC transactions].

Before Christmas I attended a meeting with An Taoiseach in the company of Catherine Murphy TD and other political leaders where Mr Kenny belligerently told us that he didn’t know what the opposition expected. That’s easy, they expect what every right minded citizen expects; answers. Not a range of excuses and legal impediments and a Taoiseach making them feel like they are creating hassle and being an inconvenience by seeking those answers.

Instead of an administration that recognises and values the importance of people’s trust we find ourselves with an administration that goes out of its way to create smoke and mirrors to hide, at all costs, the truth to citizens.

What was it Michael Noonan said to Sean O’Rourke when asked why he had evaded the NINETEEN parliamentary questions asked by Catherine Murphy TD regarding Siteserv? Oh yeah, he said, a parliamentary question asked by an elected parliamentarian is not an appropriate forum to provide answers.

He then went on to defend the practice of obliterating the information from any other avenue one might pursue, otherwise known as redacting. It’s telling that the term ‘redacted’ has entered the common lexicon of Irish citizens under this administration. Answers, in any format and through any channel are not this Governments’ desired option. Imagine that.

The truth that is being sought at this time, and in all those other scandals named above, and the ones that will never come to light doesn’t change. It always involves citizens having been disenfranchised and exploited in some way and being left in the dark about who, what, why and invariably how much, they have been exploited by.

And almost more importantly who benefitted from that exploitation, because someone always does and the odds are you’ll find them in the same group of names we tend to refer to as the ‘Golden Circle’. This sense of ‘them vs us’ was palpable in the room last night.

Nobody trusts that Enda and the lads really want you to know why €119million of your money was written off by the board of IBRC when Denis O’Brien managed to acquire Siteserv at a time when he owed the same bank – and by extension, you, the citizen, hundreds of millions of euros.

Or why other huge transactions including Blackstone or Topaz were conducted in the way they were resulting in hundreds and hundreds of millions of euros being taken from the taxpayer while significant, let’s call them ‘net worth individuals’ benefitted.

The fact that citizens don’t believe this administration wants to provide those answers is more than simply problematic for this administration. It is problematic for Irish democracy and society as a whole.

A political system that doesn’t have the trust of its citizens can no longer be regarded as democratic and in the year we will hold glitzy commemoration ceremonies for the heroes of 1916 who battled to establish a democratic Republic, that’s more than ironic, it’s plain tragic.

Anne Marie McNally is a candidate for the Social Democrats in the forthcoming General Election. Her column appears here every Wednesday. Follow Anne Marie on Twitter: @amomcnally

65 thoughts on “Cleaning House

    1. Rob_G

      +1

      I’m intrigued by the Social Democrats, but have to say that I find these posts fairly lacking in substance.

      1. Nice Jung Man

        I like Anne Marie and her message but am also concerned that there is a lot of hot air and nothing substantial in the details

        1. Anne-Marie McNally

          We have proposed the establishment of an Independent Anti-Corruption Agency as drawing on the experience in other jurisdictions in establishing an Anti-Corruption Agency, in particular the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) of Victoria, Australia, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the United Kingdom, and the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption.

          You may recall the Government recently voted down this proposal during our Private Members Business despite publicly acknowledging the need for such an agency.

          You can read the proposal in full here: http://socialdemocrats.ie/2015/12/social-democrats-call-on-government-to-set-up-anti-corruption-agency/

          1. Nice Jung Man

            Thank you Anne Marie

            How do you propose getting cross party bipartisan support for an amended bill?

          1. Clampers Outside!

            Climbing up out of the cesspit, yes 40 is a good start, shame we were in it in the first place.

            All 70 TDs who voted against are dodgy as far as I am concerned, either directly or by protecting someone who is. There just is no other way to look at a ‘no’ voter on this issue. None. They’re dirty too.

          2. Nice Jung Man

            I agree but it depends exactly what was in the bill.

            Anne Marie has provided a link above and I’m going to read it later.

            I’d be very interested in helping an independent political watch monitoring group

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          So Nice Jung Man didn’t know what he was talking about but decided to try and belittle the message anyway?

          1. Nice Jung Man

            That message was unnecessarily aggressive.

            Nice Jung Man is asking questions of the person canvassing for his vote.

          2. Rob_G

            Or Nice Jung Man asked a question, got a response, thanked the person and then asked a follow-up question(?)

          3. Djizandipus

            That’s what you get from MoyestWithExcitement, Nice Jung Man. So convinced is he of his own righteousness he sometimes walks himself into these embarrassing situations where the person he’s ‘defending’ comes on shows far more class than he has. Yet he seems to question others’ comprehension a lot.

            He’ll be back though, a severe lack of humility is part and parcel of above.

          4. MoyestWithExcitement

            Unnecessary but fun.

            You were not innocently asking questions out of genuine curiosity. You were trying to get a power fix and make yourself feel important. Bullpoo artists are very easy to spot.

          5. MoyestWithExcitement

            Bullpoo artists who try to get power fixes from strangers on the internet are also usually quite emotionally fragile.

    2. ahjayzis

      Their Private Members Bill on a statutory, standalone, independent agency solely responsible for rooting out and prosecuting corruption and white collar crime would be a start. Catherine Murphy said the problem, when she was going door to door with her questions / findings was that the Revenue / Fraud Squad etc. kept passing the buck to another agency on and on. We shouldn’t need a special judicial inquiry, we should have a system in place ready to go when crap like this arises so we’re not waiting 15 years for answers when thsoe responsible are dead or well into a lavish tax-funded retirement.

      I read somewhere we have 13 gardai responsible for white collar crime investigations – in Western Australia, with half our population, they have 130.

    1. ahjayzis

      Finding out our government have fleeced us at worst or ineptly let us be fleeced at best would damage STABILITY™

      Why do you want to destroy the country and plunge us into chaos and despair? REPENT!

      Let’s have a decade of the rosary.

      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos
      Stability versus Chaos

        1. ahjayzis

          In the interests of ecumenicism, from the top everyone, the hymn is;

          “Ye Special Purpose Vehicles of God”

  1. 15 cents

    its so rotten to the core that itll never change. not in our lifetimes anyway. maybe a good, decent party like the Soc Dems will be in power one day in the future and get to work on sorting it out. But they’ll have a loooot of work to do, and theyll meet a lot of red tape, because corruption runs very deep in this country.

    1. MoyestWithExcitement

      “its so rotten to the core that itll never change. not in our lifetimes anyway.”

      *grabs pulpit* It’ll never change because of attitudes like that. The government will do as much as they get away with. We are a ridiculously apathetic country and our governments know it. They know nobody will do anything to stop them. At the very least, you can vote SD or Ind. Just not FF/FG/Lab.

      1. ahjayzis

        +1

        I will never vote for FF, FG or Labour – never. And there’s a growing cohort of people doing the same. Look at their share of the vote now compared to ten, twenty years ago.

        1. MoyestWithExcitement

          I did vote Labour. I can’t anymore. Especially not after Joan’s Let Them Eat Cake moment. They truly have contempt for the general population.

        2. Nice Jung Man

          I won’t vote for Shinners either

          It only leaves what – a rag bag collection of dissidents and social conservatives?

      2. 15 cents

        im voting SD all the way. The old parties are just that .. old .. and inheritantly corrupt to their very core. theres a lot of older people who still vote for either FG or (jarringly) FF just because they always have and their families always have. then you get whole businesses and organisations voting for them because theyre in cahoots with them (a benefit of corruption for the powers that be). so until all those fuppers die off and our more informed youth are the majority vote, nothing will change. these deeply corrupt parties will hold pwer until then.

    1. 15 cents

      in favour of what? … anyway, why are you shouting out against dealing with corruption?do you think it’s something we need?

  2. Steve

    The government are of ignoring our proposals and want to keep corruption under wraps!!!

    Except that they introduced the public sector standards bill in December also which pretty much matches the social dem bill, including powers to prosecute and refer to DPP.

    So what haven’t they passed it yet!!!!

    Government said it wouldn’t be passed in this gov coz let’s be honest there’s about 2 weeks of it left before Enda goes to the park.

    And if they did enact it people like Anne- Marie would be complaining about the guillotine and not being able to engage with gov on such an important matter over a requisite amount of time …which it is.

    Ye can’t win.

    1. Anne-Marie McNally

      Introduced means nothing. There are Bills introduced then never heard of again. It’s not even on the B list of legislative priorities circulated at the start of term. Why? Because its not a priority. They’ve had more than enough time to even hear 2nd stage on this Bill and at least have it ready for Committee stage scrutiny but nope!

      1. Steve

        Sorry I haven’t seen the legislative priorities for this term. Yeah they could probably go second stage on it but would you like to see it pushed through by the end of jan??

        I know it sounds cynical but at this stage TDs don’t want to be leinster house, they want to be out in the constituency. I’m sure Catherine murphy, who is a shoe in, would prefer to be out walking the streets of Kildare north. Such is the way of final dail term.

        1. Anne-Marie McNally

          But from Nov to Dec…and let’s be honest…this is not something that we should have only recently realised was necessary…there was plenty of time to put this through the House in an appropriate fashion!!

          Basically if the Political Will was there to tackle these issues then there has been ample time to tackle them. Sad fact is that will doesn’t exist in the established parties.

          1. Steve

            Fair point, can’t disagree although don’t think it’s fair to smear all established party members with the one brush.

            Here’s my suggestion, when FG offer you coalition at the start of march use this leverage to get your bill into the next programme for government.

  3. DubLoony

    The tribunals are far too long, expensive and findings gather dust.
    The fact that Lowry is still in the Dail demonstrates the toothlessness of them.

    We do need more permanent structures in place.

    1. ahjayzis

      With absolutely no ministerial involvement whatsoever.

      The government’s supposedly ‘independent’ planning regulator, if it ever gets off the ground, reports to the minister. Which is not what Mahon recommended.

  4. pissedasanewt

    Public meetings.. the way to get your election posters up on lamp posts before everybody else. Its funny how these public meeting seem to increase up to election time.

    In 3 months time they will disappear again for another 4 years.. or in the case of the next FG+Labour+20 independents gov… disappear for about 6 months.

  5. Toni The Exotic Dancer

    Soc Dem’s get my vote over this alone. Sick of the closed shop legal system mumbo jumb pass-the-buck crap that protects negligence and corruption.

  6. Anne

    I thought Anne-Marie did great. She knows her stuff and seems to be more than competent for the job.

    I didn’t realise the work that went into trying to get information on the sierra/siteserv watermeter contracts and the IRBC shenanigans.
    The arrogance of the outright non cooperation from the likes of Noonan in answering questions is shocking to me. Him and others – Joany and Enda seem to be actively complicit in the ongoing corruption we have, as opposed to just not giving a fupp.

    Catherine talked a bit about the relationship people have with their local politicians.. how favours are seen to be done for people by politicians for things they’re already entitled to, explaining how the likes of Lowry gets reelected.
    Anne-Marie mentioned about some people saying to her when she’s canvassing, “well what can you do for me”. Great attitude to have isn’t it? What can you do for me.. And that’s why we are where we are it seems to me.
    It’s not about what type of society people want, it’s all about me, what a Lowry can do for MEEEEEEEE.

    I have a friend who’ll vote for Willy O’Dea based on what he claims to do for her, it doesn’t matter what his party’s policies are. ‘Willy got me my claim for the carer’s allowance. Willy got me my pot hole fixed. Willy came to me relation’s funerals. I don’t care about anything else. ‘

    I think altruism needs to be explained to some voters at the doorsteps..

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