Fianna Fáil - corrupt party of the elite
October 8, 2009 – An Phoblacht
The toppling of John O’Donoghue as Ceann Comhairle has shone a light on the elitist and corrupt party that is Fianna Fáil. They have been in power continuously since 1997 and have governed in the interests of the powerful and the wealthy in Irish society at a time when wealth was never so excessive and consumption was never so conspicuous.
During the Celtic Tiger years Fianna Fáil pampered the super-rich and, it is now being revealed, they have mimicked them in their lavish lifestyles at our expense.
John O’Donoghue felt it was his entitlement to have the state pay for his junkets to the most expensive hotels in foreign cities, race meetings, chauffeur-driven limousines, gifts of jewellery and copious amounts of food and drink. Even a £1 donation O’Donoghue made to Unicef while he was in Scotland was claimed as a legitimate expense.
The point here is that John O’Donoghue is not alone. In a republic elected representatives are supposed to be citizens who undertake public service. They are not above their fellow citizens and their remuneration should be generous but not excessive and certainly not open to the gross abuse we have witnessed. But the reality is very different.
“My husband is working 13 hours a day so these people can swan around like the royal family” was the pithy comment from one of the many people who e-mailed Sinn Féin this week to commend the party on being the first to call for O’Donoghue’s resignation.
Sinn Féin has for some time been urging total reform of expenses and salaries for Oireachtas members, including Government Ministers and Ministers of State. It should not require Freedom of Information requests to find out what was claimed; all claims should be vouched; claims should be minimized given the very generous salaries paid to office-holders.
But far more profound change is called for. While the O’Donoghue controversy was going on this week the NAMA legislation was still progressing through the Dáil. This massive bailout for the banks and the big developers and speculators is one of the greatest legislative crimes ever perpetrated against the Irish people.
The challenge for progressive people in Ireland now is to mobilize anger against the corruption and misgovernment of Fianna Fáil and to show that there is a real alternative to government based on the greed of the few.
Judging from some of the expense reports that have been published in most of the Irish newspapers in recent weeks and months, Fianna Fail politicians are not without sin but they certainly have not cornered the market on corruption. They have plenty of company in elected officials from other parties. As stated above, the abuse of expenses seems to be rampant among elected officials in all of the political parties in Ireland both North and South.