The report is out later this evening. I’m afraid I won’t be able to summon up a John the Baptist type peroration or start licking my chops in anticipation. I don’t think – given what we know already – it’s going to amount to a hill of beans.
There will be some new, and intriguing, information. But no smoke. No fires. No guns. (Incidentally this paper’s business editor John McManus wrote a very significant opinion piece on conflicts of interest on Monday which you can link to here.)
Specifically, we will be no wiser as to the identity of the Troublesome Ten. No matter. The opposition will use what the report contains – or doesn’t contain – as a launching pad for another fusillade of attacks directed at Government.
Somebody (a member of the public unknown to me before and after the conversation) rang me just before midnight last night to swear that a junior minister from Fianna Fail was one of the ten and that was why the Government was so spooked. Turns out the late night telephone conspiracist was talking about a TD who isn’t even a junior minister. And that guy is as likely to perform a naked jig on the plinth of Leinster House as he is to be one of the secret investors.
But you can see where all this is going. There is a belief out there that something dodgy is going on.
Politically, the Government (and specifically FF ministers and the Taoiseach) are in a bind. If the names don’t get out there, they will be perceived as protecting friends or being involved in a cover-up. And if any of the names are contiguous (ie linked, even tenusouly, to FF) they will be back-footed.
Fine Gael have taken cheap political advantage of all this but their cynical manoevring is no different to the kind of carry-on Fianna Fail did between 1995 and 1997. And the Greens? We demand the release of the names. Um, if it’s legally possible. Talk about premier league fence-sitting!
The political atmosphere has grown poisonous. The antipathy between Cowen and Kenny has lost any pretentions of nicety or politiness. And the mutuality of respect between Cowen and Gilmore has also slipped away of late. Who was it who said that life was was short, brutish and nasty? He must have been referring to Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil.