Bull in a China-Shop
Deaglán de Bréadún
The political demise of John O’Donoghue as Ceann Comhairle was like a Greek tragedy in its inevitability. He and his people were certainly victims of their own hubris. The public relations aspect was not well-handled, it has to be said.
The exit from the stage is that way (Photograph by Cyril Byrne)
First, nobody was accusing the guy of dishonesty in any way, shape or form. Extravagance was the subtext of all the newspaper revelations and commentary. He should have come out at a very early stage and said, “Sure, I went here and went there, stayed in this hotel and that hotel. It was part of the job. Did you want me representing the country with my arse out of my trousers? I agree the figures are high and I should have been more watchful. But at the time the country was riding high on the Celtic Tiger and I fell victim to the general exuberance. I didn’t make those arrangements but I can now see the costs were Over The Top and I’m deeply, deeply sorry. If the public feels I should resign, then I will. The TDs say I am a fairminded Ceann Comhairle but if they also feel I should go, then I will.”
That statement or its equivalent should have been issued after the first or second newspaper story. Presumably he knew there were further requests under the Freedom of Information Act. He should have opened the books himself for all to see rather than having journalists obliged to pay substantial sums of money to get at the documentation.
There is a school of thought that the holder of one of the highest constitutional offices in the land was shabbily-treated. This version of events has it that the Labour leader Eamon Gilmore reacted to a démarche by Sinn Féin who have their own history with expenses in a parliament they do not recognise.
I don’t have a view personally on this. Was it a bad day for democracy (I suspect Joanna will not agree)? The comment-line is open ….