Fisking John Drennan

Ireland is a corrupt country. The disease of corruption is so embedded in Irish society that it is not even noticed by the majority of the population. Even in the media, there are many who simply refuse to accept/recognise corruption when it stares them in the face.

John Drennan wrote an article (reg. required) in the Sunday Independent on 2nd May 2004 and it is a good example of how, even well informed journalists, refuse to see reality.

He begins:

THE triumph of the liberal agenda over the chieftains and robber barons of the Haughey era is complete.

The message here is – Liberal agenda = bad. Robber barons and Haughey = good. Haughey is a former Prime Minister. He’s a liar and tax cheat who was funded by wealthy businessmen for most of his career especially when Prime Minister. Among the many nasty smells surrounding Haughey, is the strong suspicion that he stole money from a fund that was meant to pay for a life saving operation for his ‘friend’ Brian Lenihan. Incredibly, there are many Irish citizens who think that Haughey is a ‘great’ leader/chieftain.

In spite of Beverley Flynn’s ‘class act’ on the steps of the Supreme Court, the great Flynn dynasty which once ruled Mayo and Europe is in pieces. Seven years ago Beverley Cooper-Flynn (as she was known then) was a successful bank employee and a talented politician who could have expected to enjoy ministerial office.

Today she is a ruined woman. The worst of criminals might have some chance to experience a form of redemption. That has been denied to Beverley Flynn. Her status as a woman of no repute and a political outlaw is set in stone.

Flynn freely decided to sue RTE, the Irish national broadcasting station, for stating that she encouraged people to evade tax. She was found guilty of the charge by the High Court and again on appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land. In other words she availed of the court system just like any other citizen is free to do, so she has nothing to whinge about. Had she won the Irish taxpayers would be paying out a hefty sum for her troubles.

No company will ever employ her again. In politics, the most she can hope for is a sort of half-life as the female equivalent of Michael Lowry.

Lowry, another dodgy Irish politician, once a member ot the main opposition party, Fine Gael. Under investigation{7 years now} for a variety of reasons but is still strongly supported by his voters. Another indication of how politically ignorant the Irish are, unable to grasp the connection between dodgy politicians and the massive damage the disease of corruption is doing.

The independent career woman who was once a role model for the progressive female Fianna Fail politician has evolved into a political Blanche du Bois. She is dependent on the charity of the Mayo electorate, her builder boyfriend, RTE and the legal profession and if the thin levels of charity which characterise the latter are any indication, then all she can expect is a bankruptcy court, the loss of her seat, the tender embrace of Justice Mahon and the Inspectors Report into NIB.

It might appear to be a heavy sentence. However, for some it still wasn’t enough. The reason for this is simple. Beverley Flynn was the last politician standing who was guilty of an intimate connection to the show-band loving, cream-suited world of the economy of the pig, the potato, the church and the chieftain.

This is what I call the ‘bullshit excuse factor’. Think up any waffle about the ‘lost and pure’ Ireland and relate it to your ‘hero’. It’s difficult to believe that anyone actually takes this drivel seriously, but it appears that an awful lot of Irish people do.

Though she portrayed the image of a modern career woman, her personality and politics was formed by that era. And the problem with being trapped between two cultures is that you can disappear into a chasm. Ironically, had Beverley forfeited her pride, indulged in a post-Orlando, Ben Dunne-style press conference and wept copiously as she adopted the guise of a victim of the culture of the time she would have escaped Scot free.

This in fact is what Flynn did. She also denied that she was guilty of anything while at the same time putting forward the defence that she was only following orders. Dubious claims at best.

Her refusal and that infamous “a Flynn will always support a Flynn” stance meant Beverley became a legitimate target of the new regime of tribunalistas.

Tribunalistas = citizens who want to root out the massive corruption which is destroying Irish society

In the aftermath of the judgement, some of the “brazen political hussy” anger was because Beverley had not accepted her status of guilty. However, no-one stopped to ask what she was guilty of.

She was guilty of facilitating tax evasion.

Of course, she is arrogant. Yes, she facilitated tax evasion.

So, we’re all agreed, she facilitated tax evasion, that’s what she’s guilty of.

Ultimately her gravest sin was that she was not one of that powerful unelected cabal of thought police who dominate the media, the law library and politics and whose weapon of choice is the tribunal.

No, her gravest sin was facilitating tax evasion. This is another example to the ‘bullshit excuse factor’. In a real democracy, Flynn would have been investigated by the police, charged, and if found guilty, given appropriate punishment. In Ireland, those who are unable or unwilling to face up to the fact that we are a Banana Republic will say anything to avoid facing reality.

Beverley is an enemy of the new elite and the tribunalista is only satisfied with annihilation. In spite of Beverley’s defiance, it was still a triumphant week for the tribunalistas. It may appear that the great ‘Get Bertie’ project has failed. However, in another more subtle way, it has been a success.

One of Bertie Ahern’s more impressive traits was a certain humanity. Last week, as the Irish Times celebrated the ending of Fianna Fail’s love affair with luxuries such as due process in submitting to the new ethicists, Bertie may have lost more than he gained.

New ethicists = citizens who want honesty and accountability from their politicians.

Those unreformed Mayo councillors are not an aberration. Instead they represent the electorate’s growing disenchantment with an arid school of political ethics which is dominated by a small elite, costs billions, doesn’t create a single job and is utterly irrelevant to the experience of their lives.

Unfortunately for Ireland, this is true, most Irish councillors are like most Irish citizens – unable to see any further than local politics. What the writer means here is – political ethics are just a pain in the butt, Irish people are different from other nations, we don’t need all that regulation, law, accountability, it’s too expensive and anyway we’re better off being ruled by robber barons and dodgy characters like Haughey.

They suspect the price Flynn is paying for a minor, youthful role in an entire society’s revolution against punitive levels of taxation is too high. They suspect that Beverley’s enemies are no friends of theirs and that our new clergy of tribunalistas, Equality Authorities, Human Rights/Race Commissions will be as oppressive a regime as their predecessors.

This is one of the most idiotic, inane, bullshit excuses prevalent in Ireland as a justification for widespread criminality. Every corrupt individual, group, organisation spouts this vomit when challenged on their criminal behaviour. Here’s what they mean. “There was very heavy taxation in Ireland during the 80’ and 90’ therefore I was justified in breaking the law.” In a Banana Republic, this stupidity makes perfect sense, that’s why it is almost universally accepted in Ireland. The stupid/greedy are unable to grasp the fact that if individuals are allowed to decide what law they will obey, then democracy becomes a joke, which has happened in Ireland.

Up to last week Bertie was still one of them. Not any more. Now he has joined the ‘other’.

Perhaps we should not have been too surprised about the treatment of Flynn. Earlier that week due process had already taken a beating. It wasn’t exactly a hard decision. Brian Curtin is the sort of soft target tribunalistas love to hunt. He is an unprepossessing, portly junior judge who has a messy personal life.

As the taoiseach basked in the new mantle of decisive interventionism, once again the polit-bureau of tribunalistas celebrated and, once again, nobody stopped to ask just how impressive a figure will Ahern cut if Mr Justice Curtin is actually innocent.

Using the majesty of the constitution to sack a judge who is not guilty would certainly provide us with some interesting precedents.

But as elections loom, the government is not in the mood to be troubled by facts. A scapegoat, any dusty old scapegoat, will do and it’s all to the good that Mr Justice Curtin does not “photograph well”.

However, even as we dance on Judge Curtin’s grave, we should consider one point. What works for a rogue judge, will be just as effective when they come for us.

Fortunately, some groups are still safe. Last week when Mr Justice Feargus Flood appeared on the Marian Finucane radio show, he might have expected to face a hard-hitting critique about the status of his tribunal which is regarded as an embarrassment by the Dail and the law library.

So did Marian ask about the ineptitude which allowed a tribunal which was supposed to resolve serious concerns about corruption as a matter of urgency to be dragged by the nose by Mr Gogarty into a morass of irrelevancy?
What do you think? Instead the judge was allowed to reminisce about his days with Paddy Kavanagh. As Marian interjected with sighs of “Gosh!”, all that was missing was a throaty “Aren’t you a wonderful little fellow”. Public service broadcasting at its best.

In spite of all the back-slapping, last week told us a great deal about Ireland and very little of it was good. We now live in a society where accountability is only applied to those who are not one of us.

In fact, accountability is only applied to the small citizen, to social welfare ‘cheats’, to handbag snatchers, to those who live at the bottom of the pile. The rich and powerful are NEVER held accountable. Just this week we had a perfect example of what kind of a country Ireland really is. AIB, Ireland’s largest bank, was found to have ‘mistakenly’ taken money from its customers for at least two years. Whether we are to believe the infamous AIB is another question.

This is just the latest in a long line of scams by the banking sector involving the theft of millions from the State and bank customers. Not a single bank official has ever been questioned about these crimes, never mind being charged.

Eighteen months ago a new body, the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority (IFSRA) was set up to curtail the mendacious activities of Irish banks. The first thing to come to light after the latest scandal was that the IFSRA does not have the power to prosecute anyone. So apart from meeting the bank bosses for a cup of tea and mildly berating them for being such naughty boys, there is really sweet fuck all they can do about it, and that suits the banks and their political pals just fine. Legislation is apparently on the way to give the IFSRA – but we shall have to wait and see.

We have a legal system which offers the defeated the sole option of bankruptcy, a school of ethics which cannot rise above the cowardice of scapegoating the weak while politics has been reduced to a series of thoughtless displays of moral braggadocio.

Beverley Flynn and Brian Curtin represent the least of our worries.

Especially when John Drennan is writing such nonsense.