What an awful curse amnesia is, and how doubly-cursed Fianna Fáil is to suffer from so much of it.
Brian Lenihan Snr had a severe attack of it. In May 1990, he admitted to a researcher that he had tried improperly to influence the President’s decision on dissolving the Dáil.
Later that year, when he himself was a Presidential candidate, on “mature recollection” he remembered that what he had said in a taped interview was wrong. He denied trying to influence the President, Patrick Hillery and tried unsuccessfully to meet Hillery and persuade him to back up the story.
In the resulting furore, under pressure from the small lapdog coalition party, the PDs, Charlie Haughey sacked his “friend of 30 years” from his ministerial post, and Lenihan’s presidential challenge was scuppered.
Lenihan and Haughey had little respect for the democratic workings of the country. Lenihan once boasted on national television that he had offered a policeman a choice when he intruded in a pub serving drink after hours: have a pint or a transfer. And everybody, including the Late Late Show host yukked. What a hoot you are, Brian. One law for Fianna Fáil and another for the rest of us.
During all this chicanery, Lenihan’s election agent was Bertie Ahern, a man who is no stranger to amnesia himself. Ahern suffered from many bouts of amnesia during the Tribunal investigations, preventing him from answering crucial questions about his sources of money.
And now we have Willie O’Dea, whose case bears an eerie similiarity to the Lenihan affair of twenty years earlier.
There’s the affidavit, denying that he ever said anything defamatory.
There’s the inappropriate dealings with an institution of the State: the High Court.
There’s the sudden horrified retraction and improved recollection when confronted with the reality of journalist Mike Dwane’s recording.
There’s the contempt for democracy displayed by O’Dea, his boss Cowen and his colleague, the minister for justice. Anyone else swearing a false oath to the High Court would be facing charges, but Willie was able to claim that he made a mistake.
Not everybody yukked this time, but his friends and party colleagues did. What a hoot you are, Willie. One law for Fianna Fáil and another for the rest of us.
In a final symmetry, it seems that Cowen will be forced to shaft his political buddy at the insistence of the small lapdog coalition partner, the Greens.
What a pity the Green Party — now a party with no direction, no principles and no strategy — couldn’t manage one final act of redemption before it inevitably tears itself apart. What a pity the Greens couldn’t grow a pair of organic balls and tear down this dreadful criminal conspiracy of a government that has destroyed our country.
Willie O’Dea is no doubt a cynic, a blusterer and a bully, but he’s only a symptom of the underlying infection.
Fianna Fáil is the abscess. Willie is only the pimple.