Wednesday 22 January 2020

When half a mind is more than enough

Former Taoiseach
Bertie Ahern:
'Clearly aware
that if you have
half a mind to
enter politics you
will come more
than adequately
prepared.'
Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern: 'Clearly aware that if you have half a mind to enter politics you will come more than adequately prepared.'

- So, Bertie Ahern has become the sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the Fianna Fail party!

His difficulty in handling his various financial transactions led to his downfall.

Mr Ahern's incompetence, like that of all his predecessors, was concealed by the skill of the civil servants and by some very sharp colleagues.

He joined politics as an unqualified accountant and remained so until the end. There is no shame in this; he was at least as qualified as most of his colleagues. In the world outside politics, his level of qualification would not fit you for running a corner shop. By some strange irony, however, it seems enough to equip you for running the country. Clearly, Mr Ahern was aware that if you have half a mind to enter politics you will come more than adequately prepared.

What I find sad is that Mr Ahern's real legacy has been ignored. It was unwittingly exhibited by him just outside the gates of the Dail. While being interviewed by RTE about his time in office, he was confronted by a justifiably angry Dublin woman. She suggested, amongst other things, that he should be ashamed of himself. Her attempt to elicit repentance was ignored by Mr Ahern and dismissed as the woman's crass attempt to be on television.

Here we had the most potent exhibition of what went badly wrong with politics in Ireland and we must be eternally grateful to Mr Ahern for revealing it so publicly.

I refer to the systematic dodging of the well-founded and passionately held views of the people politicians purport to serve and their suspicion that their leaders were knee-deep in dark deeds.

Thankfully, the Mahon Tribunal, though taking many years and much expense, has provided Mr Ahern with very secure grounds for feeling ashamed.

To be fair to him, however, he was not found to be corrupt.

He was untruthful, dodgy, venal, unreliable, shameless, unscrupulous, sleazy and greedy, but not corrupt, so we can all relax.

Misconstruing the concept of corruption and misapplying it to Mr Ahern, as so many have done, calls for a national apology.

Philip O'Neill
33 Edith Road, Oxford, London

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Don't Miss