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Favourites Health

Central Remedial Clinic and the Drumcondra Mafia

The Central Remedial Clinic threatens to destroy all charities in Ireland, thanks to the exposure of the naked greed behind the entire enterprise.  Far from being a charity, the CRC seems to be a vehicle for enriching a small circle of people, many of whom would seem to fit neatly into the Drumcondra Mafia definition.  In other words, the friends of Bertie Ahern, and before him, the Fianna Fáil cabal that  held a stranglehold on everything that moved in the area.

Everyone has now seen the remuneration paid to Paul Kiely, whose salary — funded by the HSE — was €107,000, but who needed another €130,000 or so to give him a proper standard of living, as befits the CEO of a charity.  I don’t know if he derived any other benefits from the CRC, such as a car but in due course, no doubt these details will emerge.  Nevertheless, we do know this: Paul Kiely got more than €130,000 every year from a fund that collected money from the general public in good faith, and the people who donated to that fund did not think they were augmenting Paul Kiely’s handsome annual income.

Kiely resigned from the board of the charity just before  the details of his remuneration were made public.

In the days since this story first broke, things have gone from bad to worse.

We now know that Paul Kiely got a tax-free lump sum of €200,000, taken from the money that ordinary people donated in order to help disabled children, and we know that he’ll receive a pension of €98,000 for the rest of his life.  Nice.

I have qualms about everything to do with this, Mr Kiely said.  Qualms about almost everything, it seems, apart from pocketing  the money donated by the public.

Brian Conlan replaced Paul Kiely as CEO but resigned last week, just before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee put the CRC on the rack.  He didn’t attend the PAC hearing and because he’s a former employee, he can’t be forced to do so.  It seems Mr Conlan paid back that portion of his salary that had not been approved by the HSE.  When asked why the new CEO resigned, CRC chairman Jim Nugent explained that the CEO found the whole thing very intrusive into his private life.

In other words, Nugent is saying that Brian Conlan was happy enough to take money from the charity as long as nobody was asking hard questions about it.

Excellent.

Now here comes the most bizarre revelation yet about the CRC and the Drumcondra Mafia.

In his statement to the PAC, Paul Kiely claimed that the CRC paid €666,000 to the Mater for administering a non-existent pension fund.  In fact, it turns out that the Mater agreed to facilitate this because at the time, in the late 70s, the CRC was not categorised as a hospital, and therefore, money was channeled through a hospital, to circumvent the rules, all approved by the department of health at the time.

I know.  Sorry.  This is Ireland, where bullshit reigns supreme.

The arrangement benefited the hospital because it was allowed to charge between 10% and 13% of the pensions value every year, even though the administration work was minimal.  It benefited the CRC board for obvious reasons because they could carry on their enterprise unhindered by regulation.

Now, there are two interpretations one might put on this.

The first is that the Mater hospital was doing the CRC a favour, but then you’d have to remember that the Mater was owned by the  Sisters of Mercy in Eccles Street, a most ruthless organisation.  I might just mention in passing that they demolished Leopold Bloom’s fictional home,  No 7 Eccles Street, without a blink in order to erect their hugely-profitable Mater Private hospital, but that’s another story.  These were the nuns who negotiated with Bertie Ahern’s government in  the discussions about how much the clergy would pay for abusing children in the residential institutions, and they managed to extract, without too much resistance, a commitment that the clergy would not have to pay more than €100 million in compensation, despite their vast holdings of property paid for by the Irish public.

In the end, the taxpayer handed out over €1,400,000,000 while the religious orders so far have paid nothing towards the cost.

What is the common link between the Mater hospital and the CRC?

In the late 70s, the Mater’s financial officer  (who prefers to call himself an accountant) was none other than Bertie Ahern, and the CRC was the private stomping ground of Bert’s political allies.  As it remains to this day.

Everyone’s a winner, apart from the disabled people the clinic claims to be helping and, of course, the taxpayer, but hey, nobody cares about the little people.

Right?

Categories
Arts Politics

Bertie Ahern. People Before Politics

The most memorable staged image from the 1997 Fianna Fáil election campaign remains the quasi-religious poster of Bertie Ahern aglow under the text ‘People before Politics – leadership through understanding’.  This  directed image, as well as notable for being a radical change from the usual poster layout associated with previous Fianna Fáil campaigns, is also a mark in time for many cultural and historic reasons.

Visually, the impact was particularly strong outside the Pale as the design broke with decades of poor layout and plain speak familiar to rural audiences.  Previous campaigns had favoured a design template with a blank space left to insert the local candidate’s (often rudimentary) portrait that had remained unchanged more or less for generations.  It reflected a design process  which continuously gave an appearance of inclusion.  Its simplicity united the grassroots and politicians with no more than a picture and a timely slogan.  Through repetition these codes became naturalised.  ‘Lets make it work for Ireland’ was one such one from the 80s, ‘  ‘For another Spurt Forward !, Vote Fianna Fáil is the actual copy from the 1961 campaign.

For generations the rural electorate were key and were not to be distracted by excess gloss or ambiguity at campaign time.  A simple reminder in plain language with the image of the candidate and party / tribal colours would suffice.  Hence the radical turn experienced when the slick international style of the 1997 posters appeared on Galway ESB poles.  Long gone was the party’s statement of 1978 that sought ‘ by suitable distribution of power to promote the ruralisation of industries essential to the lives of the people as opposed to their concentration in the cities’. The culture of the developer was on the rise and with it an increase in percieved sophistication that it was thought proper to disseminate via the election poster.

For this design, the saintly glow eminating from the poster was intended to depict Ahern as a Karsh-lit matinee idol, a reassuring Hollywood father figure shepherding the flock through boom times.  New imagery was required to emphasise the significance of how the boom was to be managed, so out went the flat evenly lit expressionless black and white head shot.  What seemed to be required was dimension and atmosphere.  This didn’t take much. With simple change of setup and with the use of a corporate type of side lighting the desired narrative was created.  The key light then became a light of reassurance.  It signified that the chief was up late, in Dublin, listening and looking out for us all.

In the poster, sporting make-up and a quiet determination, the chief stares towards the middle distance.   A fixed image that could be read as half listener in a pub clinic for the western audience and half Rodin’s Thinker for cosmopolitan Dublin.  As for the campaign, the visual package was intended to be, as usual, nothing more than a transient statement printed on plastic to be recycled after the campaign.   A visual that reflected power as it stood and as it stood to be managed.  As a portrait it was not produced for archival purposes and certainly not future-proofed for historical hanging.  However it remains a loaded vernacular mark when positioned both for the history of the Celtic Tiger and Ahern’s legacy. Sigificantly the 2002 Fianna Fáil campaign poster reverts back to the old template with a daylit image of Ahern in his office safely framed by the party colors.

The official portrait of Ahern currrently owned by the State was painted by the artist James Hanley in 2004.  It shows him blandly frozen, slightly askew and a little defensive.  The pose here is reminiscent of the neutral expectancy captured on the faces of defendants used by trial court artists. When it was presented to the Dáil,  a minor controversy occured when the subject of where to hang it arose. The debate that followed unavoidably coincided with more unsavoury revelations about Ahern’s finances.  Hanley’s €10,000 painting inevitably featured as part of this dialogue much more than it would have liked.

Eventually a sizeable volume of the commentary associated with Ahern had begun to merge visually with the type of events which underlined an increasing fallen status.  In the style of how a clipping editor would shuffle press cuttings to reflect a subject’s dominant news thread, Ahern’s fall became digitally shuffled in this manner.  The subject of course has no say in the programming of this search engine

For a proven example, a quick search for images of Ahern lands upon a startling image of him with Charles Haughey in the 1980s.  Haughey appears paralysed as something important on a desktop seems to have failed and so perhaps has the operator.  A shadowy-eyed Ahern is on hand to take over. The black and white image is cropped and dramatic.  Haughey’s famous comment on Ahern being ‘the most devious, the most cunning of them all’ is visually acted out here in the manner of turn of the century German Expressionism.  This is just an example.  In retrospect, many similar imagined narratives, based on what emerged from the tribunals, begin to write themselves as the combination of information and reclaimed images like this become more familiar.

In Galway, a vernacular version of the 1997 campaign poster appeared.  This startling version focused on a remake of the contemplative nature of the pose. It was home made and quickly achived popular status in the University town. Bertie, as the Taoiseach, was folksily known, looked stoned.   Encouraged by the poster’s comedic visual opening, an unknown artist had Tipp-exed a large joint into Bertie’s fingers and coloured his eyes neon green.  This stoned expression of leadership now spoke to a cohort far removed from Fianna Fáil ’s natural voter base but the incongruous text  ‘People before Politics’ remained.

The style of the act was perhaps directed by contemporary culture that consumed the irrelevant ethos promoted in the labored photoshop examples which were featured at the time in Lads’ magazines such as Loaded.  No matter what the inspiration was or how it came to pass, the ridiculous image of Bertie as Stoner in Chief  totally rejected the gravitas of Fianna Fáil’s economic stewardship, certainly for a Galway audience who had the people’s Bertie propped up on rented mantelpieces and taped to the Dunnes Stores framed pictures provided by their landlords.

It is safe to say the inital corporate look of the ‘untouched’ 1997 thinker image was imported from the presidential style favoured at the time by Tony Blair.  In fact, photographs from the first meeting of Blair and Ahern after the latter became Taoiseach in ’97 show the two men wearing nearly identical powdered grins and grey power suits.

The transient gallery in Galway for image of the understanding stoned thinker was not unsuprisingly the accommodation of the student or service worker . These were the drones of the Tiger’s early phase, night owls who carried out the nightime ‘pull downs’ that liberated lamposts from an unwanted presidential gaze.  They were gathering material for interventionist artwork and minor anti-propagandist resistance.  Fianna Fáils corporate vision was regularly rejected and remade on the nightly trip home.

This creative act took hold and proliferated.  Before both the end of the offical and unofficial campaigns it was possible to buy the reconditioned image of a green-eyed stoned Taoiseach, so popular was the remake.  Others began to follow the original artist’s template for similar versions briefly to be sold in Dublin.  Each poster had to be removed and individually Tipp-exed yet all were similar and held the original text as part of the saleable concept.   In responding to the intended depth of Fianna Fáil’s PR vision (and the audacity of its polished imagery) a successful minor countereconomy in the sale of the plastic printed image was led by Galway. The free market as anointed by Fianna Fáil was working and in a creative nod to the Blair project the remaking of the poster by non- artists celebrated the application of transferable skills demanded by the new economy.

By the time of Ahern’s fall, the dialogue surrounding personal accountability for the financial crisis of 2008 invited a variety of commentary from traditional art practitioners.  After an interview by Ahern in a 2009 issue of VIP magazine, the painter Jonathan Aiken painted a portrait of the former Taoiseach against a background of high-end consumer packaging and crushed credit cards.  Once again, as in the case of the Galway turn, it is Ahern’s gesture that inspired the artist.  On the Gormley Gallery website Aiken explains his rationale

‘’The piece was inspired by an interview Bertie Ahern gave in 2009 in the VIP magazine, responding to attacks from cynics, where he questioned the value of ‘pointing the finger’ and unproductive ethos of blaming others. I was stirred by Bertie Ahern’s response that we can either ‘dig the garden or grow blue bells’ or as he added do something useful.  The portrait seems as though Mr Ahern is set-up for us to yet again point the finger at him, but in his gesture he is also waving back at us, as such throwing it back to us.

 

Briefly looking further back, a 1983 photograph of Ahern by Tom Lawlor on the comeheretome site shows the creative use of signifying props that is often the mark of the Irish Times in campaign coverage.  Here Lawlor has emphasised  the ‘caught’ nature of the subject framed by bell ropes that also hint at a hangmans gallows. The text on the wall ominously wishes peace and prosperity to Ireland.  The Irish Times most notable image along the lines discussed is a front page foreshortened portrait of Ahern in a gymnasium as a basketball hoop seems to hover as a halo over his head.  Again the seriousness of the then Taoiseach’s expression, in conjunction with the objects of a public space, was accentuated to his detriment.

A damning image of Ahern is of course any video still from of his 2010 post Taoiseach appearance in an ad for the British tabloid, The News Of the World.  The thought  Ahern being paid to be squeezed in a cupboard, with a tea cup, as the citizen-funded state car waited on the shoot still provokes derisive and angry commentary

By the time of the Bertie in a Cupboard  incident, representational fatigue on the subject had set in and derisive imagery was even expected. Sourcing was available from the media’s photoshopping to any amount of rants on social media.  His sucessor Brian Cowen was now in place and was also a target for the backlash. He even attracted painted abuse in 200 when the painter Conor Casby famously, and illegally, inserted the image of Cowen as a leader stripped of his robes into the National Gallery.   As for Ahern? The commentary surrounding his tenure built towards straight digital abuse as his facade crumbled.  Ahern ceased to hint that he may run for president and reduced his media appearences as the mounting and unforgiving commentary began to mould his legacy.

The image of the green-eyed stoner is a physical mark from a pre-Youtube Galway and may only exist in the image I had the opportunity to record.  I photographed the image then as the ubiquity of Ahern’s official image truly seemed to represent an unassailable neoliberal chieftain who promoted the interests of those who filled what was then known as the ‘Galway Tent’.   In 1997 this remake struck me then as the only art-led counter-commentary being practised in traditional Agit-Prop style.  It was above all funny as was the concept of refusing to salute the chief but instead taking him home for a joint in a houseparty in Rahoon.  There was testimony in this, even then, that there was more to Ahern’s public image than met the eye.

Fianna Fáil’s infamous Galway Tent fundraisings were cancelled in 2008.  In 2010  the consequences of a late night  in the bar for Brian Cowen at a Fianna Fáil ‘think-in at the Ardliaun Hotel Galway was the beginning of the end of a certain party style.  In prioritising the entertainment of his staff and colleagues over an interview for the national broadcaster the following day, Cowen had literally put ‘People Before Politics.’

 

 

Paul Tarpey (Skip Traces).

 

 

 

 

Categories
Politics

Bertie Ahern’s Pensions — A Helpful Suggestion

Now I, for one, am glad to know that De Bert is not corrupt.

Who amongst us has not had bags (literally, shopping bags) of large-denomination notes the origin of which we have  been unable to explain?

Who amongst us has not had friends who spontaneously organise whiprounds and buy us houses?

Who amongst us has not won large sums of money on the horses, and despite it being a small prince’s ransom been unable to remember the meeting, the horse, the jockey?

And all of course not corrupt, no, not at all.

There is a most unhealthy rage against this great man. Who is not corrupt. Let’s leave aside his many contributions to fashion, to elocution, to accounting, and remember that this man was elected not once, not twice, but thrice.  And he is not corrupt, no not at all.  The more feebleminded might juxtapose being in a position of the most concentrated power in the land and shopping bags of unexplained high denomination foreign currency and draw inferences from it.   I shall refrain.

Here is a small suggestion, and remember, De Bert is not corrupt.  I am sure is like all readers, he is tax compliant. A tiny small change could be made to the various public sector pension acts, making it a requirement to obtain a public sector pension to produce a tax clearance cert.  I mean, taxi drivers, publicans, they all need to produce one. People bidding for a government contract need to produce one.  I am certain sure that, not being corrupt, De Bert would have little difficulty in producing one.  For €2,800 a week, a mere pittance, its perhaps beneath his notice, given that he obtains over €70k for speaking, but as they say ” every little helps’.

Categories
Crime Politics

Was The Mahon Tribunal Worth It?

The Mahon/Flood tribunal will end up costing over €300 million, and people are asking hard questions about it.  They want to know how an inquiry could possibly cost that much.  They want to know why the police couldn’t have done the same work for a fraction of the money.  They want to know why the tribunal needed lawyers every day, for 15 years and so do I, but all of that is beside the point.

My question is why a lawyer, or anyone else, deserves to be paid €2,500 per day when working on a State-funded project.  I have no doubt that  some people will point out what seems obvious to them: we need the best and therefore we have to pay top money, but to that, I’d reply with one word: bollocks.  We can get top-class investigative skills for a lot less than two and a half grand a day.  I know many sharp, intelligent, highly-qualified men and women who would be happy to provide these services for a fraction of the cost.  Remember, the tribunal is not a court of law and many professionals with experience of intensive inquiry, well able to ask hard questions, would consider a fee of €2,500 per day obscene, as I do myself.

Last year, I asked why tribunals of inquiry need to be run by lawyers, and I heard no convincing response.  The point was very simple: since a tribunal is not a court of law, why should it be run by lawyers?  Why not professionals from any sphere, as long as they possess the required abilities to conduct an investigation?  After all, thinking is not a skill confined to the lawyer class, and investigations are carried out all the time by doctors, architects, engineers.  Dentists, even.  Rational thinking is not something that lawyers are born with.

Three people replied to that post.  Only three.

However, to focus on the price of the tribunal is to miss the point.  Yes, it cost too much, and the model needs to be redesigned.  Yes, it took too long.  Yes, it should have powers of prosecution.  Yes, its findings should be available to the courts as evidence of wrongdoing, but none of that is the point.

Here’s the point.  It took 15 years and €300 million to force Irish peoples’ heads out of the sand.

It took 15 years and €300 million to put on the record, unequivocally, what we already knew but which many of us refused to acknowledge, and while the cost was certainly inflated, this information was still something we needed to have whether we liked it or not.

An entire government cabinet conspired to frustrate the activities of this legally-constituted inquiry.  Three or four or five government ministers were on the take.  Prime ministers were blatantly demanding money from businessmen in return for favours.  Elected members of parliament were actively shaking down property developers for millions.   Senior politicians were corrupt.  Local councillors were riddled with corruption.  Corruption was, in the words of the tribunal, endemic and systemic, which means that our state is utterly, irredeemably crooked.

This is not a democracy.  This is a kleptocracy.

You might think that €300 million is an exorbitant price, and in that I’d agree with you, but the information it provided cannot be valued in monetary terms.  Therefore, while we should certainly find a new approach to organising such inquiries, we should still pay close attention to what they tell us, and the Mahon tribunal has told us something terrifying.  Our democracy was bought and paid for by a bunch of crooked, unprincipled parish-pump bunco-artists, and what’s more, those chancers are only a small section of the crooks that have infested every stratum of our society.

€300 million is certainly a huge sum, but compared to the awareness it offers us, it’s nothing.  Mahon tells us that our democracy has been subverted by crooks and cynics.  What troubles me is the thought that the Irish people might be too blasé to understand that, just as they were stupid enough to re-elect the liar Bertie Ahern despite the evidence staring them in the face.

The planning corruption resulted in entire communities being destroyed and lives ruined.  The Liffey Valley development only went ahead because corrupt politicians killed the Neilstown town centre, condemning a local community to a lifetime of living in a suburban wasteland.  That happened because of bribery and it’s an observable, quantifiable fact.

Thieves wormed their way into public office for the sole purpose of taking bribes, and our people need to know this, whatever the cost.

Yes, the tribunals are too expensive.  Yes, the lawyers ripped us off.  Yes, the state was sucked dry, but the fact remains that our country has been raped by crooks in public office.

Forget the €300 million.  This information is beyond value, as long as we act on it.

Categories
Corruption government Politics

Mahon Tribunal Report

The Mahon Tribunal report is due out shortly, so this is going to be a dynamically changing post as information emerges.

This is the day we find out what Mahon thinks of da Bert, the illiterate fool who steered our country onto a rock while continuing to believe that he was an international statesman.

Gobshite.

I don’t know what the tribunal will say about him, but I know what I think.  In my opinion, he presided over the most debased, corrupt, incompetent, self-serving government this country has ever seen.  I think his cunning and his hubris, combined with his personal uneducated ignorance, formed a toxic mixture that poisoned the whole country.

Time will tell. I can’t yet say what the report will contain  but you can be sure I’ll put it up here as soon as it comes to hand.

________________

UPDATE

The Mahon tribunal has said that it can’t decide if payments to Bertie Ahern were corrupt.

Why?  Because not a word of his evidence was truthful.  To put it another way, Ahern has succeeded in frustrating the inquiry by lying about every single thing he was asked.   Ahern did not give the tribunal a truthful explanation for the money lodged to his account at various times, in various currencies, in the early 90s, and for this reason, the tribunal has been unable to establish where it came from.

The Tribunal is blunt in its findings of fact.  There were no dig-outs. There was no spontaneous whip-round at a dinner in England.  He didn’t win money on the horses as he claimed.  The evidence given by Des Richardson and others supporting Ahern’s dig-out fairytale was untrue.  Half a dozen people each gave the tribunal false information in support of Ahern.  Furthermore, the tribunal says that he did not save £54,000 in cash at a time when he had no bank account.  He lied about this.

Michael Wall did not own the house in Drumcondra — it was Ahern’s at all times, despite what he told the Tribunal, the Dáil and the press.  Wall did not buy the house and later sell it to Ahern, contrary to the evidence given by both men.

The evidence given by Ahern, Joe Burke and Tim Collins about the notorious B/T account is rejected as lies.  The money was not lodged for maintenance of the Fianna Fáil office at Drumcondra.  According to the tribunal, this account was actually for the personal use of Ahern and Collins, a finding unlikely to surprise many people these days.    I had my own views on this account which you can read here if you like.   Collins in his evidence invited the tribunal to swallow the nonsense that B/T stood for Building/Trust, not Bertie/Tim, even though Collins had another account with Des Richardson called D/T.

It was from the B/T account that Bertie provided a huge loan to Celia Larkin which remained unpaid for 15 years until the tribunal started asking about it.  Where did the money come from?  Collins was in no doubt.  It came from golf classics and he stuck to the story until someone pointed out that no golf classics were run until five years after the money was lodged.  By the way, let’s not forget the involvement of Fingers Fingleton in all these shenanigans.  It was Fingers who provided the money for Celia to pay back the FF loan after the tribunal started asking awkward questions.  He had Bertie in his pocket.

These guys loved their codenames.  Let’s not forget the CODR account, whhich they claimed stood for Cumann O Donovan Rossa, and  which definitely didn’t stand for C/O Des Richardson, right?

Right.

What a remarkable coincidence that so many people swore false evidence to the tribunal and at the same time, all the lies somehow told the same story.

Perhaps one of the most worrying statements by the tribunal concerns political interference.

[The tribunal] came under sustained and virulent attack from a number of senior government ministers who questioned, inter alia, the legality of its inquiries as well as the integrity of its members

 

A legally-constituted tribunal of inquiry came under attack from senior government ministers for inquiring into corruption.    It tells us all we need to know about Fianna Fáil’s attitude to democracy and makes their current crocodile tears all the more laughable. Micheál Martin was education minister from 1997 to 2,000 under Bertie Ahern.  He was health minister for the next four years, also under Ahern.   At no time did he raise questions about the arrant nonsense his leader was telling a sworn tribunal of inquiry.

Here’s the choice for Martin and the senior FF members.

1.  They knew what Ahern was up to and either participated or assented to it.  That makes them unfit for public office by virtue of the fact that they have no ethics.

or

2.  The listened to Ahern’s ludicrous explanations of where he got his money and believed him.  That makes them unfit for public office by virtue of the fact that they have no brains.

Which is it?  Either way, all their talk of expelling Ahern from their party is just so much bluster, because it doesn’t matter.  Fianna Fáil no longer matter.  What they did has destroyed communites all over Ireland and has inflicted poverty on a large portion of the Irish people, though not on the likes of Ahern or Flynn, who continue to draw three or four large pensions each.

I’m starting to feel nauseated by all this, so the best thing is probably to provide a list of previous posts here, which were written as the tribunal heard all the ludicrous evidence.

________________
Bertie Ahern and the Mahon Tribunal. He Hasn’t Gone Away, you Know.
Bertie Ahern’s English Money
Bertie and Tim’s B/T Account. Do They Think We’re Complete idiots?
The Kindest, Most trusting and Most Innocent Of Them All
Bertie Ahern, Celia Larkin and the Loan
Celia, Bertie and Fingers. The Plot Thickens
Bertie Ahern — A Man Without Honour
The Friends of Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern. Busted!!
Bertenstein

Categories
Politics

Micheál Martin’s Speech at Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis 2012

It was fascinating to hear Micheál Martin apologising at the Fianna Fáil Árd-Fheis, although precisely what he apologised for  is open to debate.  Martin has a gift for appearing sincere while simultaneously talking utter tosh — a great asset in any politician, but by no means an essential skill.  Bertie Ahern had a gift for sounding like an illiterate corner-boy while talking nonsense, and yet the entire country voted for him.  Charlie Haughey was a repulsive little lizard with a basilisk stare, and yet some people thought he was wonderful, despite his Irish solutions to Irish problems, a phrase so riddled with his innate dishonesty that it came to epitomise his entire leadership of Fianna Fáil.

Therefore, when a man like Martin appears, with a face like a liberation-theology priest, his party is doubly blessed.  For once, they can say that they are led by a man who is neither a drunk nor a chancer, but unfortunately, it isn’t possible to say the same about the grassroots.

His speech starts out fairly well, acknowledging the state of the country and the pressure people are under.

As we meet tonight, there are people throughout our country who are experiencing very hard times. They are struggling with finding a job, paying their mortgage or losing a loved one to emigration.

The problems facing people are too serious for tired, old political games. I believe that people in public life have a responsibility to chart a way forward and to work to find solutions to the challenges facing Ireland.

We won’t disagree with him on that.  The problems are too serious for tired old political games, but perhaps Micheál might consider the possibility that the very existence of his party constitutes a tired old political game.  I’ve made the point before that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are anachronisms and that, since their policies are identical,  they should both be dissolved and combined in one new party.  They have the same origins and they represent the same sort of people.  They have ridiculous titles that mean nothing and they have no underlying beliefs, although on balance, Fianna Fáil have tended to be the more corrupt of the evil twins, as Claire Ryan illustrated when writing here about Fianna Fáil’s involvement in corruption.  The rot didn’t start yesterday.

Unfortunately for Micheál Martin, as his speech goes on, it starts to sound suspiciously like the political waffle of old, and increasingly delusional.

This party is determined to play a constructive and central role in Irish public life. And our focus is very clear – we will do all we can to promote credible solutions to promote growth and job creation. This government of broken promises must be held to account for its bad decisions. But we will tackle them responsibly.

When something is right for Ireland, we will support it, when it is wrong we will oppose it.

Let no one be in any doubt about where Fianna Fáil stands – we believe that politics must be about solving problems not exploiting them.

When something is wrong for Ireland they’ll oppose it?  Clearly, the Fianna Fáil he speaks of has been abducted by aliens and replaced with identical doppelgangers.  Greetings.  We mean you no harm.

According to Micheál,

I first got involved in Fianna Fáil because we were a party of community, of integrity and of decency. We stood for social solidarity and were on the side of people trying to make ends meet.

Micheál Martin was born in 1960, when Taca was at its height.  Already, when he was but a babe in arms, Fianna Fáil cronies had been given control of vital infrastructure.  Todd Andrews had destroyed the railways so that his quarry-owning pals could make vast profits.  The McGrath family had been facilitated in running the biggest gambling scam the world had ever seen.  Dev had scammed thousands of Irish-Americans with his Irish Press shares swindle.  By the time Martin joined the FF party as a student, Des Treanor was already running an illegal bank on behalf of tax-dodgers like Charlie Haughey, who believed Ireland existed for his own pleasure and enrichment.

With the very next sentence, Martin falls into absurdity.

When Europe was falling to fascism, our founding leader Eamon de Valera introduced a democratic republican constitution for this state.

Correction.  When Europe was falling to fascism, this state was excluding Jews from asylum.  Ireland was sending demented Catholic ideologues to fight for Franco in Spain, and when fascism was finally defeated, de Valera paid his respects to the German embassy on the demise of Herr Hitler. After the fall of fascism, de Valera’s government welcomed the murderous head of the Croatian Ustasha, Artukovic,  and gave him sanctuary in Dublin.  Likewise, when Europe was falling to fascism, de Valera was consulting the Archbishop of Dublin about the wording of his proposed constitution for a so-called republic.

This is delusional stuff out of Micheál Martin, although I realise that it was crafted for the footsoldiers.  I know he’s an intelligent man and he can’t possibly believe this kind of guff, but if this is the grassroots of the party, what precisely are we dealing with and do we need such an organisation claiming the right to manage our country?

And so we come to the apology:

… we have a clear duty to admit our mistakes. It’s not enough to point to the worst world recession in 80 years and the euro zone crisis. Nor to point to the fact that other parties were demanding policies which would have made things worse – that’s for them to answer for.

We were in government and we should have acted differently.

We made mistakes.

We got things wrong.

And we are sorry for that.

No equivocation.

No half-apology.

Just the plain, unvarnished truth.

Last year the people did what they were right to do – they held us to account. People were angry and they showed it, delivering a historic defeat for us. We fully acknowledge the scale of the defeat.

I don’t accept this.  Everyone is entitled to make mistakes, but Fianna Fáil went far beyond that and this is where Micheál Martin has failed.  It’s not that his government got things wrong.  The problem is that they were in the pockets of bankers, developers and builders.  They were on the payroll.  They were bought and paid for, and it was no mistake.  No failure of policy.

Fianna Fáil were the property of big business and they did as they were instructed to do.

Let’s have no more talk of getting things wrong.  If this is Martin’s understanding of what really took place then he has no business leading any party, big or small.

In March 2010 I argued that Ireland needs vision and focus, and I haven’t changed my opinion on this.  In fairness to Micheál Martin, although he was a member of the  Fianna Fáil cabinets that destroyed Ireland, he didn’t personally gain in any way from the corruption that attended the party of which he was a leading member, but he was one of those who completely failed to display vision and focus when setting out domestic public policy.

I once argued that much of the country’s problem derives from the passive and supine behaviour of the Irish themselves, and again, I haven’t departed from that view.  I made the point that the Irish had deliberately been infantilised by both church and State as a means of exerting control, and that it’s time to promote critical, independent thinking if we’re going to find a way forward.  Fianna Fáil is a party of true believers, and therefore the very antithesis of such thinking.   It has nothing to contribute to a new Ireland.

 

 

 

 

 

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Eminem Takes Over Efinef

Fianna Fáil Split

Haughey

Categories
government Politics

Much Wants More — Bertie and the Millionaire Tribunal Lwyers

In the same week that a man in Kerry wrote to the media revealing that his children are hungry because all his money goes on the mortgage, we have the unseemly spectacle of Tribunal lawyers demanding a special payment to get them over the pain of their contracts ending.  And we also learn that our esteemed former Prime Minister, on top of his huge salary and his huge ministerial pension, has sucked a further €270,000 in expenses from the State since he stepped down.

Categories
News

Mahon Tribunal Report Due For Publication

At long last we’re about to see something coming back from the Mahon / Flood Tribunal.

Anyone who followed the Bertie Ahern module must be agog to see what the learned judges make of his ludicrous shenanigans, though Ahern is by no means alone.  Cast your mind back to the evidence from Ray Burke, Charlie Haughey the old crook, and Frank Dunlop, dispenser of bribes to councillors, who turned and wriggled on the hook until eventually collapsing under threat of jail.  Think of the old miser, George Redmond, a man so stingy that he wanted the Tribunal to extend its lunch hour so he could go home for a sandwich instead of paying for one in the local café. (George, you might remember, was caught at Dublin Airport carrying a suitcase full of cash, and was later convicted of corruption and jailed).

The list of gobshites is so long, the memory buckles under its weight.  Apart from those already mentioned, let’s not forget the appalling Bailey brothers, Joseph Murphy Senior, Liam Lawlor and the absurd puffed-up buffoon, Pádraig Flynn.

On the credit side, of course, we have to honour the memory of the late, great James Gogarty, the man who set the whole thing in motion and whose evidence delighted a nation as he ran rings around the lawyers, despite being a very elderly man.

I’m looking forward to seeing this report, and in due course I’ll do my best to summarise some of the more entertaining and juicy bits.

It took fourteen years and cost a fortune, but we need to know what was going on.  The mindset behind the crookery that Mahon and Flood investigated is the very same as the mindset that allowed crooked bankers to run rampant and destroy our economy and perhaps our society.

If we’re ever going to rebuild this country on principles of honesty, efficiency and fair dealing, we need to see clearly where we’ve come from so that we can try to avoid ever again going there.

 

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Previous posts on the Tribunal

Categories
Politics

Prick-in-a-Box

Look at this prick.  Watch to the end.

Categories
Favourites Infrastructure

Scandal of National Children’s Hospital

Eminent heart surgeon, Maurice Neligan is now saying that the plan for the National Children’s Hospital is misconceived and mistaken.  Once a supporter of the project, Neligan has candidly admitted he was wrong.  Writing in the Irish Times, he has this to say:

Crucial decisions were made on limited and selective criteria and without honest debate among those most qualified at home to give advice, and driven by concerns far beyond the welfare of the children.

Exactly.

The National Children’s Hospital was never about the welfare of children or that hoary old shibboleth beloved of bullshitters in Ireland: “best practice”.

It was always about Bertie Ahern bestowing political patronage on selected members of the medical profession, and on his old employers, the Sisters of Mercy, who will be given ownership of this publicly-funded hospital. (Bertie used to be their book-keeper, whence he evolved the inflated claim to be a qualified accountant. Their book-keeper).

The location of the new hospital is entirely unsuitable for transporting sick children.  It’s hard to get there by car and you can’t bring a sick child on a tram or bus with all their blankets, teddies and paraphernalia.   There’s nowhere on site for the parents to stay.  There’s a lot of petty crime in the area. The air quality is bad.  It’s noisy.  There’s nowhere for the children to walk around and recuperate after their operations.

The government were offered a green-field site at Newlands Cross, on the intersection of two major motorways, and adjacent to Tallaght Hospital. The consortium making the offer would build the new hospital and present it to them at cost.

They refused the offer, and instead set up a task force with instructions to make a cursory examination of the other options, but to recommend the nuns’ site as the best choice.  The task force was nothing but a fig-leaf to disguise the nakedly political nature of the decision.   As Neligan explains , one of the experts consulted by the Task Force told us that he was not consulted on location and added that Dublin’s three children’s hospitals together are large enough to stand alone. Prof Alan Craft, past president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, said his “extensive consultation” had been a telephone conversation with a member of the Task Force. He had not seen its report nor was he involved in making the decision about the site.

That was the level of research done by Ahern’s task force.

Bertie always looks after his old pals, or maybe the good sisters have something on him.  Who knows?

One way or another, the children are the ones who will suffer.

Nice one Bert.

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All posts on the National Children’s Hospital

Previously on Bock

The deal with the Sisters of Mercy
What Dirt Have the Nuns Got on Bertie Ahern?
The Sisters of Mercy and the Children’s Hospital