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Brazen face of a party's indifference laid bare . . .

Given the week that was in it, Scannal (RTE1) came up with a timely reminder of past political venalities in its recounting of the freewheeling, freeloading excesses of former Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue.

O'Donoghue's sin was not so much that he availed of so much largesse at taxpayers' expense -- politicians from all the parties were at it, as the programme pointed out -- but rather the breathtaking sense of entitlement he displayed when confronted about his high living, and his dogged refusal, right to the end, to acknowledge that he had done anything of which he should be ashamed.

Collared by Pascal Sheehy at the Listowel races, he spoke defiantly of his "probity", while his resignation speech in the Dáil was starkly bitter in its self-justification and its denial of corruption.

The fact that he had done nothing illegal was all that seemed to matter to him, questions of right or wrong never crossing his mind.

That, of course, was the attitude that finally did for Fianna Fáil, O'Donoghue being merely the most brazen example of the party's indifference to, and its alienation from, the people they supposedly represented. Scannal reminded us of all that.

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