Where to begin with the story of Alan Shatter’s severance pay?
Should I start with his support for the Oireachtas (Ministerial and Parliamentary Offices) (Amendment) 2014, Act which Shatter himself drafted and steered through to completion, abolishing payments to ministers leaving office?
Or should I begin with the appalling way this miserable little State threats its sick and vulnerable?
Perhaps I should first talk about the fact that Ireland, since its inception as a modern entity, has relied on contributions from charities instead of setting up proper services for its citizens, as any mature civilised society might do.
I don’t know.
All I know is that Alan Shatter is a politician I always admired for his liberal social policies. I liked the way he stood up to the vested interests of the Catholic Right. I liked his disdain for the inbred bigoted ignorance that kept this country in the Dark Ages for so long.
I did not like his membership of a party that represents the privileged in Irish society, but I can hardly blame him for that, since he is a member of a very privileged elite himself, a highly successful lawyer with a lucrative practice. What other party would he join? You take what you can from your politicians and then you move on.
Now, Alan Shatter hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory during the GSOC and Garda whistleblower affairs. On the one hand, he seems to have been blindsided by Enda Kenny, not an easy pill for the Smartest Boy in the Class to swallow. It’s a humiliation. My cat would cough up a fur ball if the likes of Kenny outsmarted him, but at the same time, Shatter has betrayed an enormous ego, a staggeringly huge arrogance beyond anything the general public suspected.
Shatter made a fool of himself by sinking to the level of the politicians he has so much contempt for.
He behaved like a typical FG/FF gobshite when he pulled that stupid Mick Wallace stunt, at the same time exposing to the world how close he was to the Garda Commissioner. Not a smart move from the smartest boy in the class. Not smart, and not impressive to people like me who also held him in some regard, even if his political philosophy is miles away from our own.
He went on to sneer at the Garda Ombudsman’s concerns about bugging, at the same time exposing the fact that he had not the slightest grasp of the underlying technical issues.
On top of that, he failed to act on the catastrophically dangerous allegations of Sgt Maurice McCabe, instead preferring to cosy up with the Garda Commissioner in his deniability bunker, but unfortunately for both of them, the storm was too big to ride out. The bunker was flooded and the two amigos were washed out in the flood.
Callinan quit before the waves lapped around his ankles, but Alan, all piss and vinegar, decided to hold tough until Hurricane Guerin took out his defences and he decided to call it a day, probably with a heavy nudge from Kenny’s freckly old elbow. True to form, of course, Shatter didn’t just down tools and walk away. The smartest boy in the class isn’t about to walk away just because some unlettered gobshite from Mayo tells him to go, and so he bided his time, knowing full well that this day would come.
What? Did you think that Alan Shatter, a man who charges €1,000 per hour for legal advice, forgot about the severance entitlement? Really?
Sadly, that’s the final component in Shatter’s political meltdown, as far as I’m concerned.
Knowing full well that he was doing a prostate exam on Enda Kenny, he held a press conference, the closest that anyone of Shatter’s buttoned-up mentality comes to a red-mist moment, gathering all the hacks around the plinth in Leinster House and then he announced that
1. he was taking the payment he himself had argued against, and
2. he was giving it to a charity of his choice.
Well and good. Whatever he did with the money after he received it is his own business, but the fact is that he did take the cash, even though he previously expressed the view that ex-ministers should not receive such payments. And secondly, he reiterated the view that politicians of his kind have always held: the weak and the vulnerable should have to rely on hand-outs. Make no mistake. No matter how close his ties to Jonathan Irwin, that’s what Shatter offered the Jack and Jill Foundation; a handout from his own windfall profits, which he had previously repudiated.
By the way, he hasn’t given it all away. Let’s be clear on that.
The amount Shatter donated to the charity was about €40,000 after tax, but he doesn’t seem to have emphasized one important detail. The donation means that he will be able to offset the €40,000 against his income from other sources at whatever marginal rate he pays.
More to the point, the entire miserable little episode demonstrates how well the privileged are looked after in this country, while sick children still depend on handouts and political stunts.
All in all, Shatter has managed to insult Enda Kenny, which will cost us no sleep, the State, which will cost us money, and the charity sector, which will cost us our dignity.
A true member of the Irish FF/FG elite, in other words, who brought our little country to the brink of disaster more than once.