| 7°C Dublin

Shatter should know better

THE coalition won its sweeping majority not only because voters wanted to punish Fianna Fail and were looking for a government to fix the economy. It was also because people were sick and tired of crony politics and rule by insiders.

The behaviour of Justice Minister Alan Shatter over the appointment of a party donor to a key watchdog role leaves the nasty feeling that yet another promise has been broken, just as the famous 'first 100 days' comes to an end.

It is depressing to see Mr Shatter trot out the tired old excuse that Oliver J Connolly, the lawyer appointed to the post, is eminently qualified for the post. No doubt he is. That is not the point. It was never the point. The point is not "who," but "how." Mr Connolly has made political donations to Mr Shatter and another Fine Gael candidate. At this stage, after years of such arguments under Fianna Fail, it should not be necessary for us to say there is nothing wrong with that, but we will say it. There is nothing wrong with that. It is very wrong not to have made the fact public when the appointment was made.

The taste left in the mouth is all the more bitter because there was no more vociferous critic of Fianna Fail obfuscations than Mr Shatter. Was he just playing games, or does he think that he himself is above such strictures? His behaviour since the story emerged suggests the latter. He gave the impression that he thinks the media have no business inquiring into such matters, and that he is under no obligation to reveal this key piece of information when making such an appointment.

On the contrary, not only should he have told the Taoiseach about the donation, he should have told the rest of us. We are in this fix, not just because of bad financial decisions, but because of the rotten politics which made them possible. It is no good fixing one while leaving the other to fester on.