In the Sunday Business Post, at the weekend, Elaine Byrne wrote about how, at 3am one morning, two men chased her in an attempt to attack her.
Recalling the event, Ms Byrne wrote:
The gardaí came. They said I shouldn’t be out so late and dropped me home.
I never really told anyone about this incident. The narrative would have been predictable. Were you drinking? “No.” Well, you should have known better anyway. You shouldn’t have been out so late. What were you wearing? Somehow, it would have become my fault. I was wrong. What did I expect at that hour of the night? There was no Garda report, no incident recorded for the statistics. Nothing.
Ms Byrne added:
I sat through my friend’s rape trial. I watched her on the stand being cross-examined by a barrister and heard him say the most disgusting line I have ever heard in the English language.
“Your injuries are consistent with the straddling of a gate. Did you straddle a gate?”
Because that’s what women do for fun. We straddle gates.
At the first-ever Renua think-in were from left: Fr Peter Mcverry, who spoke on homelessness, Renua leader Lucinda Creighton and corruption sleuth Dr Elaine Byrne, whose talk was entitled ‘democratic renewal’.
Academic and corruption expert Elaine Byrne appeared on Tonight with Vincent Browne last night to discuss the recent overturning of certain findings of the Flood Tribunal.
There’s nothing like hard-hitting current affairs.
And this is nothing like hard-hitting current affairs.
Vincent Browne: “This is just amazing, that the tribunal, that has cost so much, spent years and years in operation, now is forced, Elaine, forced to withdraw findings of corruption against several people and maybe against many, many more, including, probably, Ray Burke.”
Elaine Byrne: “Well, you’ve done a good job there, Vincent of tarring all the tribunals and 15, 20 years of investigations in [one] foul sweep.”
Browne: “How did I do that, go on.”
Byrne: “Well I think it’s important..”
Browne: “How did I do that?”
Byrne: “First of all..”
Browne: “How did I do that, Elaine?”
Byrne: “First of all, I think it’s important to say that in relation to what happened in the Flood/Mahon Tribunal is not necessarily something that is relevant or pertinent to other tribunals of inquiry.”
Browne: “I didn’t say it was and nor did I infer it was.”
Byrne: “I didn’t say you did either.”
Browne: “Yes you did. You said that I tarred all tribunals.”
Byrne: “Well you used..”
Browne: “Go on, it’s a silly point, go on, you’ve made a silly point but go on.”
Byrne: “No you did, you…”
Browne: “Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on..”
Byrne: “I will go on if you stop saying, ‘go on’.”
Browne: “Go on.”
Byrne: “You made the very lazy, intellectual argument that a lot of people do when it comes to tribunals, that’s exactly what you did.”
Browne: “And what was that lazy intellectual argument?”
Byrne: “You said, you used the words, that they were, that they cost a lot and and, you know, what worth of the tribunal process.”
Browne: “I did not say anything about the tribunal process, I said nothing..I made a reference to the cost of the Flood Tribunal which wasn’t a lazy intellectual comment nor did I make any comment regarding what was the worth of the tribunals.”
Byrne: “Can I…”
Browne: “Go on, just go on and stop your point scoring. Go on.”
Browne: “If you don’t want to go on, we’ll go to Stephen. But go on, yeah.”
Byrne: “The cost of the tribunals to date, at the very maximum level is about half a billion. And that costs, we haven’t, we have yet to see the final costs of the tribunals, we also have to remember that the cost basis for legal fees now are a very different cost basis than what they were. So when the final costs of what the tribunals have incurred come in, I think they’ll be significantly less under the €500million estimate. So if you’re going to do a cost-benefit analysis of the tribunals, it should also be important to look at what the tribunals have brought into the…”
Browne: “I’m talking about the Flood Tribunal..”
Byrne: “I know you are..”
Browne: “..with being forced to withdraw findings of corruption in many individuals.”
Byrne: “Let me finish, let me finish my argument, if I may go on.”
Browne: “Well, yeah, get to the point, go on.”
Byrne: “The tribunals to date have cost half a billion, however the tribunals have brought into the Exchequer, as a result of yields to the tax and revenue, about €1billion, that’s a direct consequence of the tribunals to the Exchequer and indirect costs of the tribunal..”
Browne: “Maybe get to the point that we’re making about the Flood Tribunal, that the Flood Tribunal has been found, being forced to withdraw findings of corruption against a number of people already, including George Redmond…”
Byrne: “I’m making two points. You won’t let me finish.”
Talk over each other
Browne: “It seems likely it’ll be forced to withdraw findings against Ray Burke.”
Byrne: “I’m making two points in relation to the tribunals, one is that the costs of the tribunals should also be looked…”
Byrne: “..at, in terms of the benefit to the Exchequer…”
Byrne: “..which is what the tribunals have brought in..”
Browne: “We’re talking about the Flood Tribunal and in the context of withdrawing findings.”
Byrne: “…and indirectly the tribunals have brought to the Exchequer, as a consequence of Revenue investigations that wouldn’t have occurred, if it wasn’t for the tribunals, €2billion. The second point..”
Browne: “Ok, right. We know that, we know that.”
Browne: “Now just go on and deal with the point we’re talking about.”
Byrne: “The second argument..”
Browne: “…which is arising from the Flood Tribunal being forced to with draw findings of corruption..”
Byrne: “The second argument about the tribunal’s, I would like to make, Vincent, is that what happened in relation to the Flood Tribunal is not necessarily something that is relevant to what happened in the Moriarty Tribunal.”
Browne: “Nobody said it was.”
Byrne: “Well I know you haven’t but I think it is important to say that, when things are being said about tribunals that procedures…”
Browne: “Why don’t you just deal with the point that we’re trying to address.”
Byrne: “Well do you want to go to someone else because you’re not listening to me.”
Browne: “Yes ok, we’ll move on.”
Byrne: “It’s a waste of time.”
“I had been a member of Fine Gael for six years, and was elected to the party’s youth executive alongside Leo Varadkar and Lucinda Creighton. My role was organiser with the youth wing meant I had canvassed in 25 constituencies with three different Fine Gael leaders. I was on the Youth of the European People’s Party conference circuit with Leo and Lucinda. My involvement was obsessive. The initial motivation to join was probably influenced by my grand-uncle, a member of the Michael Collins’ 12 apostles. There was a trajectory: I was 25 and needed to make a decision between politics or a professional career.
“Enda Kenny was the guest of honour at the youth wing’s national conference dinner held in Ennis in 2003. A leading member of the organisation rose to give the after-dinner speech. He got carried away with the moment, and revealed to his audience the membership of a secret committee he had established subsequent to the hammering Fine Gael received at the 2002 election.”
“The committee consisted of his drinking mates who followed the same football club, but had only a peripheral involvement in Young Fine Gael. Lucinda was sitting opposite me, and it was the first she had heard of it as well. That incident crystallised a pattern of exclusion, inequity and misogyny we had both felt.”
“‘If the ethos of YFG is built on a secret ‘rejuvenation committee’ based on exclusivity by a group of young men, I am asking you as leader of Fine Gael, if I decide to commit my life to the vocation of politics, will it be tone where the young boys’ club simply matures into an old boys’ club?’ I wrote in my letter to Enda.”
“He rang me about it a couple of times. He was sincere and listened. We met in a pub in Tipperary and it became intense as the night wore on. I admired him. I still do. But I don’t think he ever understood what it felt like to be told you were not good enough because your anatomy was different. He patted me on the back. I chose academia and journalism.”
Elaine Byrne’s article reflecting on her dark past in yesterday’s Sunday Business Post (behind paywall here).
(Enda Kenny with Joe Mulholland, founder of the McGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal in 2011.)
While announcing that the papers presented at the 2013 MacGill Summer School are now available to read online, the school’s founder Joe Mulholland has written a blog post for politicalreform.ie.
“For several years now, and especially since the sudden and brutal fall of the Celtic Tiger, the MacGill School has focussed on reform of the institutions of the state – political, social and economic. With webcasting and the sterling work of our colleagues in broadcasting and the press, this message goes far beyond the conference hall. As has been pointed out many times at MacGill, radical reform of our politics and governance in general has to be a priority if we are not to have recurring crises of the kind we are living painfully through at this time and it has to come from the bottom up.”
“Of course, other European countries are also in deep crisis but we appear to have had nothing but crises since the foundation of the state and have only once been able to offer our citizens the fundamental right of a job in their own country and that was in the first decade of the 21st century. We blew it by having people in authority in various sectors who were, to say the least, negligent and incompetent – and unaccountable.“
Joe Mulholland writes about integrity. Yet he won’t publish my MacGill paper cos it mentions Denis O’Brien. Hypocrisy http://t.co/SrZu11DTEY
Thirty senators were appointed to the Senate by WT Cosgrave, Liam’s father, in December 1922 and a further 30 were elected by the Dáil. The recreations listed by senators were as intriguing as the senators themselves and ranged from pig-sticking to collecting English china. The New York Times remarked that the first Senate was “representative of all classes”.
In all, seven peers, a dowager countess, five baronets and several knights were represented. The Senate consisted of 36 Catholics, 20 Protestants, three Quakers and one Jew. Cosgrave’s nominees numbered 16 southern unionists. The first Senate was the most curious political grouping in the history of the Irish state.
…the claim that the Seanad is unreformable is simply not true. It has been reformed, and effectively so, in the past when claims of corruption were levelled against it.
The Seanad Electoral (Panel Members) Act, 1947 outlines the procedures for elections to the Seanad which have remained unchanged since they were introduced to the 1948 Seanad elections.
However, the other thing that this case from the 1940s illustrates is that only the executive can successfully carry through reform and, at present, there is no will within the executive to undertake such a programme. Ultimately, it is only the executive which retains the levers of power to pioneer how the Seanad is constituted.
Elaine Byrne writing in The History Hub’s Seanad Special