I rather like Éamon Gilmore. Had I been a member of the Labour Party, which I’m not, I’d be quite happy with him taking over the leadership. He’s a smart guy, has some ideas, knows how to express them and isn’t hemmed in by the inherited orthodoxies of Stickiedom. On the other hand, I can’t quite figure out what he thought he was doing coming up with the idea of a no confidence motion in Bertie. Grabbing a cheap headline with a motion that was bound to fail is something you might expect from Electric Enda, who, all credit to his persistence, is still trying to put himself forward as an alternative taoiseach. But I would have hoped for a slightly more sober approach from Gilmore.
I’ve written before about my views of the Tribunal system (apologies for the repetition), and I also direct readers to WorldbyStorm on this issue. Just to recap, the Tribunals, apart from their dubious constitutionality, have become an enormous white elephant. Their main material function – apart from their political function – is to provide journos with easy copy and multimillionaire barristers with a very substantial state subsidy. With no end in sight, and a projected bill that could well top a billion euro, a sane body politic would have introduced strict anti-corruption laws (and maybe stricter ones than those currently in place are called for) and then moved to wind the Tribunals down. Unfortunately, since Des O’Malley browbeat Charlie into setting up the Beef Tribunal in 1991, no government has had the balls to get a grip on the legal eagles.
So we have this current situation with Bertie. We should reiterate that there has been no proof, nor anything like it, that Bertie has done anything illegal. Unethical and dishonourable probably, but no smoking gun of illegality has been found. All that Mahon has been able to demonstrate so far is that Bertie is a bit dodgy, a bit of a geezer, a little bit werrrr, a little bit weyyyyyy, a little bit arrrrgggh. But we knew that already. Did anyone really expect him to break down in the Dáil and wail that his entire political career had been a complete fraud?
Then there is the partisan aspect. The one thing that keeps me from straight out calling for the Tribunals to be scrapped is that that’s what the gaimbín wing of Fianna Fáil would like to happen. But that’s not to say that they don’t have a point. No matter the fact that Frank Dunlop paid off politicians of all parties; both the official opposition (Fine Gael and Labour) and the real opposition (the Irish Times) have shown a touching faith in the idea that endless exposés of “Fianna Fáil corruption” would oust the Soldiers of Fortune from power. (The gormless left of course also cling to this notion, with their little placards calling on the gardaí to arrest elected representatives.) The recent election should have proved otherwise, but I suppose that for a certain type of political mind it just proves that the Irish population get the leaders they deserve.
But there is a dynamic here that FF supporters are keenly aware of, and it’s a dynamic that undermines the credibility of the entire Tribunal system. Multiple judicial tribunals have been sitting for so many years, at such hideous expense and with so few tangible results that the only way they can be redeemed is by claiming the scalp of the Taoiseach. And, in the absence of a smoking gun, that means poking around in Bertie’s personal finances and trying to make him look so shifty that he becomes too much of a hot potato to remain in power. Trouble is, Bertie’s personal finances are so convoluted and his brass neck so tough that we could see this whole saga drag on for the rest of our natural lives. Well, maybe a few people would be satisfied with that, but it doesn’t do much for the public good.
Rud eile: No, I haven’t forgotten Gail Walker this week, she just didn’t interest me that much. We had the media’s treatment of Britney Spears, Sir Hugh Orde’s bit on the side and yet again some slagging off of the BBC. Elsewhere in the Telegraph this week, Lindy McDowell branched out from local politics to have a pop at Ahmadinejad, although not surprisingly she managed to bring the Provos into the argument. For another view of Ahmadinejad’s American adventure, you may find Justin Raimondo interesting.