Saturday 3 December 2016

Politicians have little use for moral principles

Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30

Leinster House: ‘politics and moral values are invariably on a collision course’
Leinster House: ‘politics and moral values are invariably on a collision course’

Myles Duffy provides a very helpful context in which to address the question of standards in public life (Irish Independent, Letters, December 16). The 'Nolan Principles' that he details are essentially moral principles that are as old as the fields but do not sit easily with day-to-day politics.

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Politicians have little use for moral principles. When confronted with dodgy dealings, they appeal to the letter of the law, suggesting that they have not been engaged in wrongdoing. Besides, contrition is not a natural companion to their efforts. It is invoked at their peril.

Politicians talk of mistakes which they regret, not wrongdoings for which they must apologise. They dare not apologise as this implies an admission of guilt. This mirrors the banks' suggestion that they did nothing essentially wrong; they just fell short of their expectations.

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