Tuesday 25 April 2017

TDs should not just be messenger boys

Sargent's downfall was caused by doing what many people believe to be a TD's job, says Emer O'Kelly

TREVOR Sargent is a mild-mannered, civil- ised man, a former scoutmaster who still looks like a scoutmaster. And he has behaved beautifully, refusing to utter self-pitying remarks, resigning gracefully and without preamble, and following the resignation with an announcement that his generous severance package will be donated to charity. He has been inundated with sympathy for his predicament, and admiration for his stance.

Perception: the nice man deserves sympathy.

Sargent's downfall was caused by doing what many people believe to be a TD's job: making representations on behalf of a constituent. Sargent's constituent was a man who claimed to have been fearful for his own safety. And what is the political system convulsing itself about? Not the events themselves, but the way in which the story came into the public domain, with allegations of dirty tricks flying through all parties in the Dail. We have yet to hear a single politician state unequivocally that the matters which caused the resignation deserve to be in the public domain, and the body politic is better for their airing. If the system is such that the matters can emerge only through "leaks", then it is the system which is at fault, not the leaks.

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