| 16.6°C Dublin


Despite what the headlines told us, the Mahon Report was not sensational. Some time ago I wrote that Bertie Ahern (right) had been so busy that his financial affairs had become as entangled as a ball of wool thrown to a frenzy of kittens. Those words wouldn't suit now. He surely had time enough to appoint better and more skilful helpers.

When Charlie Haughey was asked to explain his wealth, he said: "Shrewd investment."

My mother, God rest her, said: "It's a pity that he cannot invest so shrewdly for the country as for himself." Many people believed him. Bertie Ahern, in trying to explain his wealth, said: "It was made in betting at the racecourse."

I am long acquainted with the racecourse and the betting shop and know that few people make money in that territory. It was a pathetic excuse and nobody believed it.

The Mahon Report emphasised that Bertie lied on a big scale: it also emphasised that lying is part of Irish politics, so deeply rooted that it cannot be eliminated. Where will Bertie go now? It seems that his career in politics is all over. He is still a man of the people in reality as in theory. He is a hard man to dislike and he will go on being a kind of hero in Drumcondra and places north.


What can we say about Padraig Flynn... For the first time in political comment, we have seen the word 'bung'. Until now it has been confined to football. In fairness to Padraig Flynn, he didn't waste the money: he bought some kind of a farm with it and thus increased the wealth of the Republic. His career in politics seems to be coming to an end also.

Very soon we will again suffer the anniversary of the 1916 uprising. And good people will tell us lies about what happened then. Amazingly we never have commemorated the 1913 Lockout. It might be a good thing if all of our schools told the history of socialism in these islands and in Britain. It goes back a long way, back to the start of the 19th century.

It begins with individual preachers and Thomas Paine's book The Rights of Man, which contains a memorable sentence: "There are times that try men's souls."

The preachers were nearly all Wesleyans, who were influential in this country but not as much as in Britain. Joseph Arch was the most famous; we can see him almost as the founder of British socialism.


Our island made a big contribution in the form of George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. Later came Tom Johnson who founded the Irish Labour Party and Jim Larkin who was the father of Trade Unionism. They were both English. And so between the two islands there was great communication.

The Irish Sea, as we have often said, is not so much a barrier as a bridge. In talking about Britain, and England especially, we should bear this in mind.

The cause of Labour in England and Britain was taken up by the intellectual classes in the early 20th century. They put down the foundation of the Labour Party as we know it today. One aspect of socialism in Britain was that it was completely non-violent.

The Labour Party had a painful birth here in Ireland. Too much honour was given to the men who favoured the gun. Patrick Pearse was a noble man but he didn't understand what forces he unleashed in 1916. That devotion to the gun is still with us. The year 1922 was the worst in modern Ireland. Then began the Civil War which is still with us.

Young people today should see the 1916 uprising not as a glorious thing but as a disruption of a peaceful and successful movement. Democratic politics had brought the farmers of Ireland the ownership of their lands. This was a huge step forward due, in main, to Charles Stewart Parnell.

Fogra: Congratulations to Eoin Callaghan on winning his first race in Malahide in his return to fitness