independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Previous controversies that quickly ran out of steam

President Patrick Hillery

POLITICAL history is replete with controversies that quickly flared and then vanished. These include:

2002: The late Fianna Fail minister Seamus Brennan was a non-smoker who took a very occasional drink. But in 2002 he was accused with 'sticking' Dublin Airport duty free shop with an unpaid bill for €5,000 worth of cigars, brandy and whiskey in the early 1990s. Two separate inquiries found no such thing ever happened.

1995: Taoiseach John Bruton vented his frustration about the stalled Northern talks when asked about it by a radio reporter in Cork. "I'm sick answering questions about the f***ing peace process," he said.

It provoked a great furore – for two days.

Then his complete and honest apology was fully accepted. In fact, his stock rose, as he showed a human side.

1979: Senior journalists were astonished to be summoned by President Patrick Hillery. And more astonished to be told by him that he was not having an affair and would not be resigning.

Rumours had been rampant for months and the news reports caused a sensation. Hillery went on to serve another 11 quiet years as President.

1973: Two English brothers, Keith and Kenneth Littlejohn, were on trial in Dublin for one of Ireland's biggest ever bank robberies when their links to the British security services emerged.

Then it transpired that FF leader Jack Lynch had been told of their links before he lost office as Taoiseach months earlier.

Intrepid reporters tracked Lynch down to his holiday home. Had he known this? "Yes – but I forgot," he said blithely. There followed a few days of controversy. Then everyone else forgot.

Irish Independent

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