Bryan Wall: A Little Swing To The Right

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From top: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Maria Bailey TD in 2017; Bryan Wall

The Maria Bailey case just won’t go away. And that’s a problem, at least for Leo Varadkar and company. It has now emerged that on top of everything else she lied when she said she only asked the hotel for €7,000 to cover her medical costs.

In fact, it’s now being reported that she asked for €20,000. According to the Irish Independent, she initially received a cheque from the hotel for €600 to cover her medical costs. Apparently this cheque was lacking the appropriate amount of zeroes so she wrote back to them asking for €20,000 instead.

Then there’s the fact that she was receiving legal advice from her own party mate, Josepha Madigan. So we have a member of one of the dominant political parties making fraudulent claims while being advised by a member of the same party.

In any other country this would, one would hope, create some kind of controversy. But in Ireland it’s passed off as a public relations problem. It has nothing to do with dishonesty and double standards.

But in reality it does. A party that willingly accepts liars and cheats into its fold is a party that has no concern for what’s right and just. If it won’t deal with injustice and dishonesty in its own ranks why should it deal with it writ large across society?

The answer is that it won’t and it can’t. It won’t because it doesn’t care and it can’t because it would involve a restructure of our society that is beyond their comprehension. It would involve creating a fair society. And that just can’t be allowed to happen.

Controversies like this are a gift to the far right. The Justin Barretts of the world see this and can point to the dishonesty of our major political parties. They can say “Mainstream political parties don’t care about corruption in their own ranks”.

And the Justin Barretts of the world would be correct. This then becomes their greatest recruitment tool. The far right may be nascent in Ireland but it’s here. And before we know it, it’ll turn into a major problem.

Stieg Larsson, the author of the Millennium Trilogy, was also an expert on the Swedish far right. Throughout the course of his career as a journalist he wrote at length about its tactics and talking points. In an article from 2003 he wrote that for the far right,

The most common propaganda message is the claim that somehow other democratic politicians are scoundrels who cheat and line their pockets at the expense of ordinary people, and who have “sold out” or “betrayed” their country.

Given the ascendancy of the far right in Sweden over the last three decades, Larsson clearly had a point.

This should be apparent to every political party and politician. Politics is different to what it was 30 years ago. The stakes are arguably higher today given the increasingly obvious effects of the destructiveness of capitalism. Add in the climate crisis and you’re left with a scenario ripe for exploitation by the far right.

But this either isn’t apparent and our politicians are astoundingly blind or it is, and they simply don’t care. Their brazenness might be tempered if they did take it seriously.

If it was taken seriously in Sweden 30 years ago a far right party wouldn’t be the third largest political party in the Swedish parliament today. Instead, Bailey gets a slap on the wrist and Madigan, so far at least, has escaped any kind of reprimand.

In the now infamous interview on Today with Seán O’Rourke she related her distress about the story. Not her distress at being dishonest but at the commentary rightly criticising her and calling her out. Essentially, she was upset at being found out. And she went on to accuse people of bullying her.

Despite her claims, journalists investigating fraud by public officials and the subsequent commentary on it is not bullying. It is, as a matter of fact, in the public interest. And let’s not forget that she suffered no long-term injuries from her fall apart from perhaps a bruised ego. Yet when caught out she decided to evade and obscure. Irish politics at its finest.

Nobody is calling for her head to be placed on the block. All people want is some accountability. But that has always seemed to be in very short supply. Our leaders feel free to lie and obfuscate throughout their careers knowing that very little will happen.

At most, an inquiry will be set up to investigate any wrongdoing without any ability to impose penalties. And then they can saunter off into semi-retirement.

We deserve better. We need better. Frighteningly, the alternative that a lot of people see is some combination of Fianna Fáil and the Greens, more Fine Gael, or the far right.

With the continual arrogance of the big two, and the Greens’ seeming willingness to enter government with either of them, the far right will capitalise on this.

If only honesty was policy.

Bryan Wall is an independent journalist based in Cork. His column usually appears here every Monday. Read more of Bryan’s work here and follow on Twitter:  @Bryan_Wall

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22 thoughts on “Bryan Wall: A Little Swing To The Right

  1. Medium Sized C

    “In another country…..”

    This culture cringe nonsense needs to stop.
    Stuff like this happens everywhere.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Why – who was he suing and what was he lying about?
      Oh sorry – it’s a ‘look.over there’ comment .

      1. postmanpat

        Or we could look at both and criticize both in detail. The assistant story seems dead and buried just like they predicted. So they win . I guess. Bravo phony Wallace and the anti-vax lobbyist red woman . well played! Good news to all the commenter here who gushed over everything she waffled on about in the Dail. ” ..such an amazing woman” “…absolutely love her” (literal quotes from imbecile commenters here over the years!) I disliked liked her and Wallace, (and Ming) from day one. Ill dislike the next wave of snakes posing as social warrior politicians who slip in with the protest votes after the next financial crash in a few years.

      1. Mr.Fart

        i agree, it wasn’t a ‘look over here’ comment, it was just plain ol’ simple whataboutery.

  2. topsy

    Good article. It seems to me; for those who have authority and power in this state that lying is the new truth. We see evidence of this in Government, Tribunals, agents of the state such as Tusla, the gardai, etc. Lying by those who administer the affairs of state is rampant.

  3. Cian

    “The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.

    To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.

    To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made leader should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

  4. A Person

    Well done. Another silly biased article. How on earth can you equate a fall off a swing from a councillor with the Swedish far right? You’re supposed to be a journalist.

    1. postmanpat

      A Person. Bryans mind works on a higher level than the rest of us. Where we see chaos, he sees patterns.

      1. V

        I know I shouldn’t have

        A big 20 a day snorer of a snort n’all
        The kind that leaves a dry patch at the back of your throat

        ‘must be all the rum •-)

      1. Pip

        That was a mean and shallow thought.
        I would only wish her on my worst enemy.
        Sorry, Rory.

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