Saturday 25 January 2020

Kevin Myers: You cannot have a political culture that cherry-picks the Ten Commandments; tolerate it, and others will do likewise

Today's is my final column as a salaried employee of this newspaper. The remorseless flow of the decades has brought me to retirement-age, and to the very last tribunal of my staff-career: Mahon.

What a revelation that was! After €300m and 15 years, it found there was corruption in Ireland. Good God! I cried, hurling the radio out of the window in disbelief. Can this be true? Irish people not honouring their word?

No, no, no: next you'll be telling me that priests have been sexually abusing children, and nuns brutalising unmarried mothers, and why, government ministers arming and funding a militant breakaway wing of the IRA! But thank God: such things are impossible, are they not?

They certainly are not impossible if you remain in steadfast denial about what kind of people we are.

Tammany Hall -- the organised nexus between political favours and the ballot-box -- was Ireland's great contribution to the US body politic.

Only one American president in history had absolutely no ancestors listed in the first US census of 1790. That was John F Kennedy, for whom the political machine of Mayor Richard Daley in Chicago obligingly "disappeared" the vital ballot-boxes that would have made Richard M Nixon president. Hence, the first and only Irish Catholic tenant of the White House, courtesy of a rigged-election.

You probably know my opinions on 1916, and find them outrageous and tiresome. Good. So stop reading now.

But if you think a trade unionist -- Connolly -- giving his 14-year-old son a revolver to shoot down his fellow-countrymen a moral act: if you think a landed Countess -- Markievicz -- murdering an unarmed policeman -- Lahiffe --in St Stephen's Green a moral act; if you think that a gunman -- Holohan -- chasing a helpless 14-year-old boy -- the pathetically named Playfair -- from his home in Phoenix Park, cornering him and blowing his brains out, a moral act, why, you'll probably have no idea what I'm talking about.

This is the kernel, the key: you cannot have a political culture that publicly cherry-picks through the Ten Commandments; once you tolerate that, then others will do likewise, but making different choices according to their mood.

Thus Charlie Dalton, one of Michael Collins's Murder Squad (the subject of much heathen and depraved nationalist veneration), later became a founder of the Irish Hospital Sweepstake, which made fortunes for ex-gunmen like him, and naturally, gave very little to Irish hospitals.

Exiles in the US gave comparable sums to de Valera's Fund for Ireland. And guess what? He kept most of it, issuing worthless shares to the poor idiots who subscribed, but keeping the valuable ones for himself, so creating a ruling Fianna Fail kleptocracy to rival that of the Free State Sweepers.

Corruption is made possible by low standards: what is unpunctuality, but a disdain for rules?

The plumbers or electricians who don't show up on time are the building-blocks that make possible the Ziggurat of large-scale corruption.

Moreover, the culture of the Catholic confessional, and the absolution it conferred on non-sexual misdemeanours, served as a profound contaminant in Irish life: no non-pelvic sin, from patriotic-swindling to patriotic-murder -- a mere spectrum, not a quantum-leap -- was taboo in the perverse form of Catholicism that took root here.

The Mahon Tribunal lasted 15 years, five years longer than it took to build the Large Hadron Collider under the Alps. Whereas the latter's task is to seek the origins of existence, Mahon's brief was somewhat more modest. So discovering that creatures like Flynn, Lawlor and Burke were corrupt is rather like hiring Holmes to find a Lambeg drummer banging away in a Vatican phone-box: it certainly shouldn't take €300m.

And as for Bertie Ahern's improper €215,000, why, that sum is €80,000 less than the legal costs at Mahon of just his namesake alone, Dermot.

Meanwhile, 17 lawyers earned over €1m during the tribunal's decade-and-a-half of leisurely lucubrations, with each SC earning up to €2,500 a day. And you know what? If you unleashed the Mahon Hadron Collider on any one of us, you'd find something juicy and untoward. On me, certainly.

The Moriarty report found that billionaire Denis O'Brien's Esat deal -- from which he later made €300m -- was facilitated by the corrupt Michael Lowry. Precisely one year on from the finding, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny was sharing a platform in New York with Mr O'Brien.

Which probably means that Bertie Ahern might take heart: we really don't take the tribunals' findings any more seriously than we do the basic rules of an orderly, law-abiding society, the violations of which brought about the tribunals in the first place.

No wonder that Galway City Council is now planning to erect a statue to the terrorist mass-murderer Che Guevara. They simply haven't got a clue about anything, have they?

On which note, I end my career as a salaried-columnist, bidding you all a fond and final farewell.

Yet stay! Cease your ecstatic ululations! Quell those indecent carols of good riddance! For next week, I shall return as a twice-weekly columnist, no longer on staff, but now on contract. Yes, gentle readers, weep and despair!

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