Sunday 25 September 2016

You're wrong there, Michael...

Published 30/03/2014 | 02:30

Finance Minister Michael Noonan
Finance Minister Michael Noonan

There have been a lot of casualties of the endless Garda scandals, a lot of hard-won credibility lost, a lot of politicians and journalists making fools of themselves. But while a lot of people were teetering on the brink, most of them were managing to hang in there, and nobody had really gone down until early last week.

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But the splash made when the Big Dog himself went down was audible all over the country, due to the fact that no one expected the first major political scalp from this mess to be Michael Noonan.

But somehow, one of the few untainted people, one of the few who had managed to stay out of it, one of the few government politicians with credibility, was sent out to bat on this one on Tuesday, and within minutes we knew we would never see the Big Dog in the same light again as we watched a lifetime of hard-won political capital pissed down the toilet.

Everyone has their favourite bits from Michael Noonan's encounter with Miriam O'Callaghan on Tuesday. It could have been the way he didn't even try and pretend to know anything, peppering his conversation with "I imagine . . . I assume . . .", culminating in him saying how he was only "trying to make sense of a series of events" himself.

But the standout moment for most of us was poor Noonan having to repeatedly assert to Miriam that the commissioner had simply suddenly decided to have a change of pace.

This man, who headed a police force where there was so much bugging and phone taping going on that no one could even tell who was bugging who anymore, who headed a police force where one investigation was never enough to get to the bottom of endemic corruption like penalty-point quashing, this man, who had publicly described the actions of two men who tried to do a good thing "disgusting".

Poor old Noonan was having nothing only to stick to the retirement line. The commissioner, Noonan said, had merely brought his retirement forward eight months for family reasons "and we shouldn't ascribe motives to him other than that".

As the week went on it emerged that the commissioner had not settled into retirement because he suddenly got a good deal on a cruise. In fact, it emerged that he had not even resigned because of the complete collapse in the credibility of the force under his watch. When Noonan was really made a fool of by Enda was when it emerged that the commissioner was effectively sacked, indirectly by the Taoiseach.

The others we can forgive. We didn't expect much more of them. But we half trusted Noonan, and that hurts a little.

Sunday Independent

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