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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: January 20, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    The Persil Brigade – Whiter than Whitewash

    Harry McGee

    So much for a hybrid inquiry. What a cop out. No political accountability. No public hearings. No compromise to the Greens whatsoever despite their bleatings. The only thing that’s hybrid about this is that the Greens went looking from a compromise and Fianna Fail compromised by giving them a process with even greater degrees of opacity than a straightforward Commission of Investigation.Brian Lenihan’s interview on Morning Ireland this morning was disingenuous in the extreme. He said if people wanted a public inquiry, well then he could write out a cheque for €150 million and give them a Tribunal. That’s a total red herring. He made no mention of a parliamentary hearing. And the relatively easy steps that could be taken to overcome the flaws exposed by the Abbeylara judgement.

    A parliamentary hearing would be all-party and would not be the same vehicle as the workaday committees… it would have a preliminary scoping investigation carried out by an expert; legal advice as to terms and format; and then hearings held on a formal basis, going through the issues module by module. The nature of these committees in the past has been bipartisan and there’s no reason why this one couldn’t be the same.

    Brian Cowen’s guff about being accountable to the public and being open to coperation with the process. The terms of reference explicitly exclude any examination of the policy decisions taken by him and his colleagues that faciliated the ‘light touch’ regulation culture that we had in Ireland before the crisis. He also said that the Commission could choose to hold some of its hearings in public. That was also cobblers. Legislation provides for only non-adversarial evidence to be heard in public. In other word, it will be meaningless for the stuff that’s getting close to the bone.

    The cut-off date is August 2008. That is inexcusable. We won’t be allowed any sight of what happened in the highly crucial and highly significant period in the run-up the Government ceding to the bank guarantee scheme. Did it capitulate to pressure from Anglo and the other banks? Was it sold a pup by any of the banks? None of us will ever know – not for 30 years anyway.

    Hybrid. No. No. No. Whitewash.

    • Eoghan says:

      Shameful. There is no other word for it.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      For once we could draw on one use aspect of the Seanad, having a few non party individuals about the place.

      Let the parliamentary committee be comprised of 45% members of the opposition 45% of government members and draw from the actual real independent members of the Seanad for the remaining 10% or so. I might not be the biggest fan of some of the the uni senators but it would ensure that such a committee didn’t become overrun with an entirely party political exercise one way or the other.

    • Declan says:

      John Gormley’s line on this mornings Pat Kenny Show on RTE : “It will not be secret, it will be held in private” in respect of the inquiry must go down as a classic quote in the history of Irish gombeen politics.


    • Des FitzGerald says:

      This whitewash farce could be the perfect excuse for the Greens to say enough is enough and that they can’t stay in a government where one party colludes to protect a golden circle from being held to account.

      But of course like the PDs before them, the Greens have grown fat in the comfort of the state merc and won’t be doing anything anytime to rock the boat. But we can wait for them as long as it takes.

      On the other hand, the economy is so rotten it won’t show signs of any life for at least 18 months so maybe it’s best to let FF/G fester in their own mess.

      Perhaps by then the 30% or so of those who still vote for FF might finally have got it through their thick skulls that they are also part of the problem. Because their vote for the same old waster time and time again puts that waster in a position of power where he lets his crony friends bleed the country dry.

      We can live in hope, but as we sadly know from the denials about how widespread child abuse is in Ireland, us Irish are fierce attached to denial about the things we don’t know to know about or face up to.

      It’s not just good enough to blame the politicians and bankers and developers and senior civil servants. The people who vote for FF candidates in all manner of elections are to blame too and need to face up to what they’ve done.

      We all know people who vote FF and yet we never take them to task over it. Would we say nothing if we knew someone was beating their partner. So why do we think it’s acceptable to say nothing when we know a friend or family member is going to cast a vote for the very people who are to blame for people we know losing jobs or their home.

      Are we actually that stupid as a nation? It’s high time the decent silent majority made their voices and anger felt.

      We should adapt the book of ethic and proper government from Iceland line by line and put it into law.

    • Maurice O''Leary says:

      Minister Lenihan’s performance on Morning Ireland confirmed his paternity if the hair style left any doubt.

      Wonderful mixture of lies, charm and a little bit of intimidation (pint or a transfer?).

      If he survives, he will make a great leader of FF.

      But in spite of all the green jersey nonsense, dont expect anything patriotic. He may be effective in doing what he wants to do using the near dictatorial powers that a ruthless government can adopt but he sure as hell is not defending our interests.

    • Kynos says:

      Would you expect anything less from the parcel of rogues liars thieves robbers and sociopaths that comprise for the most part the Fianna Fail party and almost all of the government? It would seem somewhat naive to. They could nod and wink at Ireland’s betrayal to cowardice inhumanity and rapine, they sold this country to torture and illegal war. They can nod and wink at anything. Fianna Fail delenda est! 2012. They won’t survive it. Thank God.

    • Kynos says:

      Brian Cowen, God willing, will be the second last leader of Fianna Fail. The longer he’s there, the greater the liklihood that he will utterly destroy that Evil Empire. All evil contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction. All Dushtas destroy themselves and take everything around them along with them. We should be nice to Mr Cowen; support him however we can in his continued tenure in office.

    • Dan Sullivan says:

      It’s not a secret, you just can’t talk about it to anyone else. What is this enquiry fight club?

      #1 The first rule of the enquiry, is you do not enquire about the enquiry!

      #2 The second rule of the enquiry, is you DO NOT talk enquire about the enquiry!

      #3 – If someone says stop, feels peckish, goes to the bathroom, cites the national interest or the vulnerability of the economy the enquiry is over.

      #4 – There are two sides at least to an enquiry. All sides are entitled to legal counsel at the taxpayers expense.

      #5 – One Enquiry at a time.

      #6 – No loud shirts, no Hawaiian shorts, no home-made shoes, no sandals.

      #7 – The Enquiry will go on as long as it has to.

      #8 – If this is your first time at the Enquiry, you have to answer. Unless, of course, you don’t feel like it, which is ok cos we don’t feel like enquiring into this either. It’s just that public opinion made us feel we had to seem like we were doing something.

    • Eoin Murphy says:

      As if they would have let an inquiry happen on any other terms but theirs. After all those years in the job, your indignation is commendable -if a bit naive- Harry: honestly, did you expect anything else?

    • robespierre says:

      Depressing – we line a republic the septic isle as Geldolf sang 30+ years ago.

      This is politics of the banana republic. We now have a DNA database being compiled, a blasphemy law, no right to civil marriage for large swathes of the republics citizens, Gardai and Army officers retiring in droves, a bankrupt exchequer and a Governement that is corrupting the process.

      The boil needs to be lanced but I have no faith that the opposition would be any better. They may be fresher but I still see more people that I would be likely to hire and than fire in Fianna Fáil (and I have never voted FF in my life) than I do across the whole of the rest of the opposition and the Seanad.

    • Jonathan says:

      Oh God, the Vegetables in this ridiculous government make me sick, and Declan’s quote above is a gem.
      I can’t help it, but they are just like Enid Blyton’s Five Find-Outers playing at government. A joke. They’ll be wiped out at the next election, but of course that was FF’s aim all along in bringing them into government. That’s what they do with their “junior partners” – they chew them up and spit them out. The trouble was that the vegetables were too stupid to see it.

    • Tony says:

      If I hear again one more FF clone on the radio or the tellly sprouting on about re-instating accountability in our banks & banking system I will scream! .The people of Ireland want to see JUSTICE not business as usual .This confirms that they have something to hide as the very perpetrators are one and the same .Its a bit like a Monoply Game if you pass go ,you get a golden handshake but the difference is nobody goes to jail.

    • Ray D says:

      What we have here is a failure of law. Politics is the art of law-making and politicians are the sole law-makers in the State. They have the monopoly on law-making. What happened with the banks and the practices there should have been against the law but they weren’t and, indeed, still aren’t. The law is made by the politicians in Dail Eireann who ensure that company laws are weak and not strong. We have a capitalist system here and that is what the politicians serve by making Mickey Mouse laws – light regulation equals no regulation. We are a right wing State and the tenor and purpose of our laws will not change to upset that consensus .

      An enquiry is a complete waste of time and money. The politicians collectively are the guilty party here,. We don’t need or want another useless enquiry. Better that we change our laws immediately such as making fraud – whether intentional or not – a serious crime, abolishing the Official Secrets Act, and removing the limited liability provisions of the Companies Act (which protect all the gangsters in our society). These moves alone would go a long way to sorting out this horrible capitalist society and bringing even a smidgeon of integrity into our endemically corrupt society .

      Comment by Ray D

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