Friday 15 December 2017

Callely affair no laughing matter

ONCE upon a time, the affair of Senator Ivor Callely's expenses claims would have generated more amusement than anguish. The public would have been highly entertained by each twist of the screw: the house in west Cork, the mobile phone invoices, the property investments. . .

No longer. Most of us lost our taste for this kind of entertainment about the same time that the economic and financial crisis struck with so much force and inflicted so much pain. It did not survive the appearances before the Mahon Tribunal of Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach who appointed Callely to the Seanad.

For several years, Ahern had been foremost among those who proclaimed the death of the old "culture" of cronyism and corruption in the political system generally and the Fianna Fail party in particular. But towards the end of his tribunal evidence he provoked mocking laughter by saying that he had acquired unexplained sums of money by backing horses.

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