While the potential consequences of Brexit rumble around unknowable and the thumpings of Trump scare the world, Irish politics has shown it can still compete with the worst. And can still beat them all.
Often I wonder why people continue to vote for the main parties that have run Ireland for decades. The recent scandal, still to be fully uncovered, magnifies that puzzlement into a state of total gobsmacked “I’ll never get it” disbelief.
First, on the main parties.
- Fianna Fail is the party with the best nominal vision. And therefore the one that lets itself down most. Full of petty local potholers and greasy con-men, Fianna Fail is the party of populism, of “whatever it takes to get elected” and of “the money was just resting in my account” venality.
- Fine Gael is the party of social and fiscal conservatism. It ought to be a decent slightly right wing party but it’s ruined by an inability to see past the interests of its core constituencies. “The right thing to do” is defined in FG as “whatever makes our kind of people richer”, combined neatly with a “don’t upset the church” conservatism.
- Labour is what should be Ireland’s social democrats. It can rightly claim to have driven much of the positive socio-legal changes in Ireland over the decades, but it’s waaaay too tied to the unions, way too protective of unreasonable social welfare and unable to see that markets and socialism are not antithetical.
- Sinn Fein….the refuse of the Irish political system. Hand-in-glove with murderers and thugs.
- PBP and the rest of the left. All the problems they complain of are real. And all their solutions are bad. Wrong, even. Unable to think past slogans.
- The independents….well, they’re a varied bunch.
But…what’s the scandal? It is, frankly, hard to believe this story and it’s even harder to see any way that it doesn’t indicate an immorality in the whole Irish governing system that requires not just a clean-out, but actual prosecution.
Several years ago an Irish police office, after much frustration, blew the whistle on how Irish police were abusing their powers by forgiving traffic offences from the police IT system.
A fairly petty abuse of power, really. One that any senior Police manager should have quickly sorted out. But the whistleblower was swiftly sidelined, nearly fired, and thoroughly made to feel that he should have kept his mouth shut. More to the point, his accusations were really not taken up with any enthusiasm by any of the (few) people in Irish politics who might have done so. The whistleblower, apparently a persistent type, suffered years of abuse and mistreatment but stuck to his story. And nothing really changed and no-one really dug into why.
Why? Well, it turns out that the Irish child protection agency put a note in his file that he’d been accused of child abuse. “Digital rape”, to be specific. Of an 8yr old. No police investigation followed since – after all – there was no actual crime to investigate and an investigation would have to have evidence, processes, courts and all. But the accusation ran around Irish political and journalistic circles for years. So support for the whistleblower was, shall we say, thin on the ground. Tie your political career to a child abuser? Not likely, eh?
Finally, someone somewhere let it be known to the man himself. The only person who wouldn’t keep quiet. And now everyone is running for cover.
But there are really only two scenarios.
- Either the Child Protection Agency (Tusla) made a clerical error resulting in an unreal accusation of child abuse which the police (who knew of the accusation) never properly followed up AND both Tusla and the police leaked the false accusation widely in political circles AND the Irish politicians and journalists never spoke to the accused AND all this went on inadvertently for years….OR
- This was all a deliberate smear of the grossest sort, which Irish police and two Irish governments and the Irish Child Protection Agency were all in on.
I confess I tend to believe the second option.
That’s how the Irish state apparatus reacts to a single policeman who goes through formal reporting channels to complain about widespread (albeit petty) abuse of police power.
Imagine how it reacts to anything serious….
Again, twould all make you believe the stories that PBP and Sinn Fein tell. Though their solutions are still the wrong ones.