The English judicial system has no qualms about jailing politicians. As can be seen by the jailing of former British cabinet minister, Chris Hune, who was the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for the Eastleigh. He was jailed for perverting the course of justice in regards to a minor penalty points issue.
In Ireland we have a long and ‘proud’ history of holding judicial tribunals into political activities that ultimately end in €10’s of millions being wasted on making law library millionaires. Said politician’s mentioned in a report, will scream political murder, swear on the bible and the child’s life, that they did nothing wrong. They may even shed a few tears or in some rare cases lose office and be confined to the ignominy of local political history as getting caught… as opposed to doing wrong.
There are a number of politicians and former politicians that should be in jail but because of Ireland’s onerous libel laws I shall avoid them like a Fianna Fail at a tribunal.
Take a bow Henry Coyle, our first TD jail-bird. Henry was a former Irish army officer and later a Cumann na nGaedheal politician. He was elected at the 1923 general election to the 4th Dáil as Teachta Dála (TD) for the old Mayo North constituency. He lasted as a TD for just a year. In 1924, Coyle was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for bouncing cheques. Because his sentence was for more than six months, he was disqualified from the Oireachtas on the 9 May 1924, under Section 51 of the Electoral Act 1923.
Next up, Mayo Clann na Talmhan TDs Dominick Cafferky and Bernard Common, in the 1940s, both received sentences of less than 6 months for land agitation in Mayo. Dominick later went on to become a leading Dáil campaigner on penal reform. Mayo leading the way for jail-bird politicians….
Proinsias De Rossa has had more parties than someone working in Ibiza for the summer. Proinsias has been a member of Sinn Féin, Worker’s Party, Democratic left and the Labour Party. Proinsias did seven months for being caught at an IRA training camp in Glencree Co. Wicklow. Apart from suing The Sunday Independent and getting €300,000 over an article Eamon Dunphy wrote, De Rossa didn’t do much else in politics apart from exchanging a few expletives with the Prince of Darkness Declan Ganley during a Lisbon 1 debate on Newstalk.
Former Fianna Fáil TD, Liam Lawlor was such an embarrassment to the Irish political system because of allegations of corruption, that on the day the Dáil unanimously called for his resignation he was taken from Mountjoy to Leinster House in the back of a prison van to to defend himself in the Dáil. He was subsequently led from the Dail into the back of a prison van after the debate to serve out his sentence. Taoiseach at the time Bertie Ahern said, Lawlor had repeatedly let politics down and his position was untenable. Lawlor, he said, had been committed to prison three times and political life was “cheapened” by this. Irony on the cheap….
Fianna Fail’s Ray ‘Rambo’ Burke did 6 months in arbour hill for falsifying tax returns. The flood Tribunal found him to be corrupt. The Flood Tribunal found as fact that the backers of Century Radio had paid large bribes to Burke to secure favourable ministerial decisions. Burke was once overheard saying “I’m going to fucking screw RTÉ”. Bertie Ahern, when questioned on the suitability of Burke as Minister, defending him by saying “I’ve looked up every tree in North Dublin.”. Burke resigned just a few months later….
Kerry North, Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, spent some time on the run for the suspected robberies of a post office and bank in the mid 70’s. Ferris did time though for attempting to import 160 arms and 71,000 rounds of ammunition using the fishing vessel Marita Ann, he wasn’t importing them for Sinn Féin, but for the IRA who are in no way part of Sinn Féin or vice versa…..
Dublin North West Sinn Féin TD, Dessie Ellis was arrested in 1981 and charged with possession of explosives. He jumped bail but was captured in New York. He was found guilty and got 10 years in Portlaoise prison. He was extradited to England in 1990. The Irish Independent recently citing papers released under the 30-year rule, reports that Ellis was linked to 50 murders during the Troubles by British diplomats in 1982.
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, The Roscommon TD, Apart from having his penalty points wiped, was found guilty of more than acting like an attention seeking child back in 1998. Ming spent 3 weeks in prison over the non-payment of fines in relation to the litter pollution act.
It is hard to believe now, but there was time when Joe Higgins and Clare Daly were once the best of pals. Back in September and October of 2003 they spent time in the ‘Joy’ for actions done during the anti-bin tax. I’m sure spending time in prison together was never going to be a basis for a healthy relationship going forward….
There’s a reason our Seanad members don’t do jail time, that’s because it’s not worth the effort of bribing them as they have less power than County Councillors….