There is nothing in the Law or Constitution that I have to have a bank account. Some people dye their hair yellow or put rings in their noses. I decided I wasn’t going to open an account. Put it the other way round — there was no reason that I should.” Bertie Ahern , Mahon Tribunal, October 2004.
I dyed my hair yellow when I was younger. I have had bits of me pierced too. The main difference between Bertie and me is between 1987 and 1993 I had a bank account. In 1993 I was 14 years of age. Bertie was Minister for Finance….
It’s true to say there were members from all parties on the take. None on the scale of Fianna Fáil though, and it went right to the heart of Government. They did their grubby little deals under the portraits of the founding fathers of our country. What proud Soldiers of Destiny they must have felt as they flogged our country parcel by parcel for a couple of thousand pounds.
One of the most memorable pieces of testimony came from Tom Gilmartin. He described how he was invited to meet Haughey; in the room also were Liam Lawlor, Pee Flynn, Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern, Brian Lenihan, Seamus Brennan and Gerry Collins. The beating heart of the Government meeting with a property developer. After the meeting he was given a numbered bank account in the Isle of man and asked by an unknown person to put £5 million in it. He told Fianna Fáil they were worse than the mafia. In fact they were like some sort of political chuggers accosting property developers for money.
Like the Church of Satan or Scientology, Fianna Fáil had some good members — it did so throughout its corruption years and continues to do so now. But why did they not shout stop? Why did Albert Reynolds or the people around him not contact the Gardai or, at the very least, challenge Pee Flynn on why he trousered the 50k? Albert must have felt sorry for him running those houses….Openly knowing that he trousered 50k and not doing anything about it …..what kind of message must that have sent to others in Fianna Fáil? What message did it send that Charlie Haughey leader of country was openly corrupt. Follow the leader, I suppose….
This was corruption on a West African scale. One can’t help but muse if the Internet had been around back then whether elements of Fianna Fáil would have been sending emails to people abroad asking for their bank account numbers because their best friend was leader of the country.
Where were all the so called good people in Fianna Fáil? The dog on the street knew what was going on in Fianna Fáil, as did the Gardai, journalists and anyone with a remote passing interest in politics. Or so they all are claiming now. That’s just in Dublin…..There is also a whole sorry mess in Wicklow that needs serious explaining.
What now for Fianna Fáil? Mehole Martin has been floundering. He will be Moses-like leading Fianna Fáil wandering in a desert for 40 years unless jettisoned. Unlike Moses, he wont be coming down from the mount with some pearls of wisdom on tablets. The only tablets he will be coming with are Valium or Xanax to calm try to calm the disgruntled soldiers of destiny who have been betrayed by their leadership. Fianna Fáil will do well to heed the lessons of the Conservative party after they lost power in the 90s.
Who could possibly take over from Mehole? Willie O’Dea has spent the last two days apologising, saying he wasn’t trying to undermine the Mahon tribunal. He was trying to lob the gob or drop the hand but nooooooo not trying to undermine it. How about Dev Óg, Who conveniently got himself expelled from the Dáil the day before the Mahon report was released? He showed great courage there driving his car west like it was stolen so as not to face the media. The young Turks of Calleary, Collins and Byrne have not come of age and might not get the chance if Fianna Fáil Nua (Sinn Féin) get their way.
Their have been suggestions they should disband, discard the Fianna Fáil name and become a new party. Well, that would be just a sheep in wolf’s clothing. A merger with Labour or Fine Gael? Not till they decontaminate which may take longer than a nuclear fallout, and then probably not at all.
Long term, Fianna Fáil will probably survive though like all good cults like the Moonies or Church of Scientology.