not a member? click here to sign up
On the centenary of the Titanic disaster, how appropriate that Fianna Fáil should have a sinking feeling after its culture of corruption and cronyism was unmasked by the Mahon Report
The Whole Hog, 10 Apr 2012
To its shame, as the Mahon Report confirms, Fianna Fáil was the party most associated with this nodding and winking and insider trading. It wasn’t alone but it was by far the worst offender – largely, one suspects, because it was the party in power for most of the last eighty years.
There are principled party members and Fianna Fáil old-timers who express rage and regret at the party’s fall from grace. This, they say, happened because the party lost its soul sometime in the ‘60s and gave itself over to being seduced, pleasured and exploited by unprincipled pragmatists and managers, the most notable of whom was Charles J. Haughey. But, of course, he was not the only one. Far from it. Those who rose to the top tended to be of a similar mind-set.
The Mahon Report describes the outcome: a culture of self-aggrandisement before service, of power without principle, of cute hoorism and irresponsibility and parish-pump loyalties, of Tammany Hall-style protection racketeering and corruption. Fianna Fáil became, not exclusively of course but widely, a party of made men, who functioned off the core assumption that you were entitled to make hay while the sun shone, both personally and for those others within the party ambit on whom the opportunity arose to bestow favours and benefits.
This might remind you of some Mediterranean countries, where corruption seems simply to be part of the fabric of things, but the closest comparison is probably with Chicago under Mayor Daley and his machine. As happened in that particular Irish-American domain, FF party people came to regard the spoils as their birth-right. Only a fool would join another party. Fianna Fáil was the party of power.
During the tribunal hearings, the evasiveness of many of those being questioned was astonishing. The Mahon Report captures for posterity the brazenness of their responses, as well as it does the utter tawdriness of the practices revealed. The sheer grubbiness of people, who in other circumstances bestrode the Irish, European and world stages as if they were statesmen, is hard to credit – but there is no denying it. That is the great achievement of the Mahon Tribunal. No one can claim that they did not know, ever again.