Jul 29, 2009

Corruption most blatant

In yesterday's Irish Times The Ceann Comhairle defends his lavish approach to public money

Commenting on the expenses incurred by John O’Donoghue, former minister for tourism and now Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil, the department said “every effort is made to secure the best possible rates” for Ministers and their delegations. The statement was in response to a Sunday newspaper report that documents released under the Freedom of Information Act showed Mr O’Donoghue, his wife Kate Ann and his private secretary, ran up a travel bill of more than €100,000 over a period of two years.

In addition to the expenses detailed in the article, it is common knowledge that O'Donoghue takes a helicopter to Kerry if he's going home of an evening and has his state car drive down from Dublin to pick him up. Likewise he sends the state car down to Kerry to pick up his wife if she fancies a day in Dublin. All this at the taxpayers expense.

I thought we got rid of a ruling class in this country when Ireland became a republic. The truth is simple. Members's of the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party have become the ruling class and try the country as their personal treasure chest. The taxpayers are the peasants, to be disregarded and mocked as the government places taxes and levies that could be likened to pre-revolutionary France. Well France had their revolution and I think the anger of the Irish people won't be contained for long. The streets may not run red with blood but there may be a few grazes.

The success of Fianna Fáil can be explained in part by the Irish Press. Owned by Dev and his family, it was never critical of the FFers or their policies. A perfect little propaganda machine.

Dev killed our economy and impoverished our parents and grandparents. Dev and all the Taoisigh since him permitted the industrial schools to continue despite extensive reports of abuse. In fact, Ministers for Education disappeared complaints and the entire text of the Cussen report from public records. Lenihan Senior was involved in dismissing complaints too.

Think of Haughey. He had a private island, an estate and racehorses all on a TD, Minister or Taoseach's salary. How is such a thing possible. It is not of course but the journalists of the day did not dare to cross the Short Fella.

How many Fianna Fáil TDs have made Irish politics into a hereditary dynasty? Let's list them

  • Cowen
  • Lenihan
  • Coughlan
  • O Cuiv
  • Kitt
  • Andrews
  • O Flynn
  • Ahern
  • Connolly
  • Brennan

They have been brought up with the arrogance of petty privilege and the perceived entitlement to rule. We the people have bought their line of bullshit but people have become so disillusioned with the state of Irish government that it is easier to emigrate and be a success elsewhere that try and provoke change in this country. Good people will not stand for election because the ruling elites have the money, power and backing of their party.

I was supporting a candidate for the European elections. A bright guy with policies of change. The truth is that it was extremely difficult to get any publicity or to get on or be given any time on The Last Word, The Right Hook, Drive Time, Prime Time, Pat Kenny Show, Morning Ireland or any of the national newspapers or television current affairs programmes. I know because I phoned every day to try and make it happen. Instead the media focused on Ganley, the candidate with the money and the standing MEP's opinions about Ganley. It's easier to serve on the International Criminal Court than to get heard in Ireland without a political party.

People like O'Donaghue are taking advantage of public money because they can. Because they consider themselves elite. Because the people of Ireland are given little choice in the elections. Just consider this:

John O'Donoghue, his wife Kate Ann, and his private secretary Therese O'Connor ran up a travel bill of over €126,000 in the space of just two years.

Among the expenditure were a series of €900-a-night hotels, €7,591 on "airport pick-ups" during a two-day trip to London, €120 for hat rental, €250 for water taxis and €80 to "Indians for moving the luggage".

On one luxurious trip to Venice, the former arts minister, his wife and the civil servant ran up hotel bills of €5,834 at the Albergo San Marco, the Hotel Cipriani and the San Clemente Palace. The ministerial entourage travelled to Italy by government jet, where they were collected by a private airport boat and taken to their luxury accommodation.

He is not even trying to hide the bill padding. And that's what corruption has come to in Ireland. Why bother hiding it when there are no consequences to such spending, never mind the othering of the luggage handlers - "Indians for moving the luggage" indeed.

One of the main contributing factors to our current economic shitstorm is that Lenihan nationalised Anglo Irish Bank. Now he said he did so because the bank was of systemic importance. Of course, he said that he didn't read that part of the report

Brian Lenihan came under intense political pressure last night, following his admission that he only learned about the transfer of €7 billion to Anglo Irish Bank last month, even though his department informed the Financial Regulator about the issue last October.

... Stressing that he only learnt about the issue last month, he said the money transfer was not identified as a risk factor in the 720-page report. “I did not read the report in its entirety but focused on the risk factors outlined therein.”

He added the Taoiseach had not been given a copy of the report. “It was not circulated to the Taoiseach or to other Ministers. I returned any copies I received because I was conscious of the confidential character of the information involved.”

The conclusion is that either Lenihan is criminally incompetent or criminally ignorant. But what if there was another possibility? The real reason why Anglo was nationalised, aside from bailing out Fianna Fáil' developer buddies and getting kickbacks?

Someone I know was serving at a Fianna Fáil banquet two years ago. What is interesting is that all the bills were paid by cheque. What was more interesting is that all but one cheque were drawn on Anglo Irish Bank. And that is the real reason that Anglo was nationalised. The party's money was tied up in the bank. Lenihan, Cowen and Coughlan would be out in a flash if their grassroots supporters lost their money. FF's motto would seem to be party first, developers second and the country in a distant third.

So Anglo was nationalised. And the country is fucked. We bail out the banks, cut social welfare, put levies on the public service, increase taxes, invent new taxes, levies and charges, cut the already mismanaged and incompetent health service, cut education funding among other austerty measures. Now the taxpayer suffers the consequences of the property bubble, the bailout of the Fianna Fáil developer buddies and the choice to put party before country.

The result is that those of us who have children or plan on procreating have to measure whether it is fair to bring them up in Ireland, knowing that they will be paying for Fianna Fáil's failings in their taxes or emigrating because of a stagnant economy. Is it fair on the children to stay in Ireland? Maybe it's just best to leave once the world economy picks up. Or if you stay, will you stand for election? Let's wrest our country back from the special interest groups and loosen the death grip of the FFers.

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