When you see a pattern emerging, it may be nothing more than that. But it usually deserves further study.
When Alan Shatter causally divulged information about Mick Wallace that could only have come from a garda source, it seemed a familiar tactic. This was not a minister charged with the security of the State alerting us to a threat, but a politician swatting an annoying political gadfly.
This is a Government beset by gadflies. One of the most annoying to those in power must currently be the Oireachtas committee chairman, John McGuinness. Another deputy of independent mind, he has been seeking to have a proper inquiry into our banking debacle. For some mysterious reason this has not pleased the Government. Of late we have been reading stories about Mr McGuinness that seem to reflect little credit on him – the cost of outfitting his office when he was a junior minister, the expenses run up by his son who was his adviser. It isn't a question of whether or not these stories were legitimate. But you must wonder about the motive of the "source".
Clare Daly too causes annoyance to the Government on an almost daily basis. Coincidentally or not, we were recently told about an incident in which she was handcuffed and taken to a garda station on suspicion of drink driving – she was not over the limit. Last week we also got some inside Garda information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, another gadfly.
Senator Diarmuid Wilson some time ago raised the issue of the alleged link between Michael Lowry and the purchase of Doncaster football grounds – a link for which the Moriarty tribunal could find no
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evidence. Inexplicably, this did not seem to please the government either. And again, Senator Wilson found himself the subject of new revelations about a business link between himself and Kevin Phelan, the man who recorded his conversations with Michael Lowry.
Let's not shoot the messenger, but we are entitled to wonder if the source has a dog in the fight.
As for Kevin Phelan, one of his companies is declared bankrupt in the North – and this is seized upon as if it discredited everything on those tapes.
A couple of garda whistleblowers have also been making life difficult for the Government. And, surprise, surprise, they are not being treated as champions of openness and transparency. Both have been left feeling badly treated by the powers that be – one of them, so much so, that he resigned his job.
Not so long ago, Phil Hogan warned journalists at the Sunday Independent that manners would be put on them if they did not start showing more respect for the Government. Who knows just how much power and influence Mr Hogan has or how much weight his threats carry.
It doesn't do to be paranoid or cynical when dealing with the boys and girls in big business and politics. But a healthy dose of scepticism is necessary if you want to avoid being neutered – the seeming preferred method of instilling manners.
And keep an eye out for emerging patterns.