Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone

Off the fence
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone?

Off the fence
Anton McNulty

So after 15 years and close to €300 million of tax payers’ money what have we learned since the publication of the Mahon Tribunal. Well for one, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is not corrupt, just not very good at telling the truth, while Padraig Flynn it seems took fifty grand off a property developer in order to buy his wife a farm.
While the two mentioned men have rejected the findings off the Mahon Tribunal as have the majority of the people accused of wrongdoing, the reality is that the public haven’t. The inquiry into payments to politicians by developers has found, what ordinary people have believed for a long time, that corruption is ‘endemic’ in politics.
It was not just a few Dublin councillors lining their pockets but it affected every level of government right up to the Taoiseach. To borrow a line from Yeats, they were all fumbling in the greasy till adding the halfpence to the pence.
When you receive the privilege from the people to serve them in public office regardless of what level, you are supposed to serve the common good for all the people. What Mahon has shown us is that certain politicians used their power and influence for their own betterment.
Yes not all politicians are corrupt and do not receive payments for influence but many knew what was going on but did very little to change the culture.
Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin says Ahern ‘betrayed the trust’ of the party but in 2008 he and a number of senior ministers backed him to the hilt when he was giving untruths before the tribunal. Such hypocrisy should not be forgotten.
The grubby relationship which was nurtured in the late eighties between developers, bankers and politicians led to the boom in the construction sector which eventually spectacularly collapsed.
While we live with the consequences of corruption many of the former politicians named are sitting at home enjoying the luxuries of their vast pensions.
The question now being asked by many people is what is going to happen to these people who the tribunal have found to have received payments corrupt or otherwise.
If people are to trusts politicians into the future they will want to see action taken and not just utter a few words of condemnation and let it fade away into the background. One of the first acts should be to look at pension payments and have them taken off those who used public office for their own financial gain. Until people are held to account and held responsible for their greed then the €300 million spent will be an obscene waste of money.  As the centenary of September 1913 approaches unless changes are made Yeats’ famous line, ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, It’s with O’Leary in the grave’ will ring true once again.