‘Dropping Bertie’ also denudes Fianna Fail of the very best of its recent history…

Even if Bertie Ahern’s resignation offers Micheal Martin a useful tribal head on a plate, Noel Whelan notes that it also robs the party of some of the best of its recent history:

Ahern led Fianna Fáil for 14 of the last 17 years. He has defined the party in the modern age and has done so in a positive and popular way for most of the time he was leader and taoiseach. In distancing itself from Ahern, Fianna Fáil will find itself having to airbrush him from its history. In fact it will be left without a recent history. Every time, for example, party figures talk about the contribution of the party and Ahern to the Northern Ireland peace process, they will also be reminding the electorate about the findings of the Mahon tribunal.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • lover not a fighter

    Ireland would/will be best served without either Bertie or Fianna Fáil.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Even photoshop can’t clean this one up. Throw in Burke, Flynn, Lawlor and of course the bould Haughey and there isn’t much left. Even Reynolds doesn’t come out smelling of roses. In fact the guilty by association can be thrown at most of the survivors. Not to mention the almost comedic farce that was Ivor Callely and various other small scale fiddlers and of course there was Michael Woods sweetheart deal with the religious orders.

    There is simply no credibility left – it’s laughable watching the rush from remaining FF personnel to distance themselves from people they were fawning over a short time ago.

    FF are now in terminal decline. They have a hardcore but there is a far bigger hardcore who will never under any circumstances vote FF. If they had a solid infrastructure still in place they might have some chance of hanging on, rebuilding slowly and relying on Joe Public’s short memory. But they don’t. In many places the cumann was centred on individuals not the party and there is hardly any urban base left. Having a guilty by association leader will haste the decline. FG were able to do a rebuilding job from the bottom up in recent times but it wasn’t against a background of corruption and being largely responsible for an economic collapse.

  • Greenflag

    TS ,

    Along with the RC church , the banksters and developers , FF now joins that select-self selected elite that have been found wanting by the vox populi the same vox populi that gave them their uncritical support for decades . Let that be a lesson to the future generation . And here’s a broader perspective . Now what can the State celebrate in 2016 ?

    Much no doubt but there will also be much that we might wish to unremember and airbrush from history -a much more difficult task in these days of ‘universal ‘ information at the click of a mouse .


  • PaulT

    “‘Dropping Bertie’ also denudes Fianna Fail of the very best Strawman it had to deflect attention from everyone else in the party who got a mention in the Mahon report.

    It also robbed MM of an opportunity to show leadership

    I think Mick FF are more concerned about the present that any coverage of the GFA in the future.

    Although as someone pointed out on P.ie there’s at least one FG TD who needs to consider her future, FF are still going to be front and centre on this for a while.

    You haven’t covered the latest RedC Poll yet, apparently taken during the initial flush of Noonans faux deal on the PN and before Mahon, I think it had FF dropping 2 to 16% the next one can only be worse reading for MM.

  • Alias

    The public have short memories. By the time the next general election comes around FF will still be the only opposition party.

    Whatever the polls tell you, they don’t do psychology very well. When the time comes, this government will not be re-elected.

    And that means the rise of FF. How great the rise will depend on on how quickly they dump Mr Martin.

  • Brian Walker

    All the same, Bertie’s passionate denials deserve further attention. Either “the most skilful, the most cunning” of the era of Haughey dominance has disappeared up his own moral fundament in spectacular denial or there is an explanation lurking somewhere. Could the full truth be even more embarrassing than his disgrace? Have I missed it, or why is so little discussed about how these guys avoided tax on their dig-outs and hand-outs – the crime of fraud?.

  • Alias

    The interesting aspect is why corruption is at the top in FF but at the bottom (with the exception of Lowry) in FG. That is, of course, ignoring how Fitzgerald managed to get a private bank to write off his debts. In percentage terms, both parties had the same number of corrupt TDs at around 10% each.

    Obviously, much greater damage is done to the brand when the corrupt are at the top and not among the lower ranks.

    Given the tens of billions of profits that depended on successful planning applications, I’m almost disappointed that none of our gombeens were clever enough to make fortunes out of it. They seem to have been satisfied with small change, selling themselves rather cheaply.

  • PaulT

    Alias, the spinning is beginning to sound a bit desperate, to say the least.

    You also seem confident that Mahon is the totality of political corruption in Ireland. Many others believe it may well just be the beginning of a lot more stuff to come.

    Plenty more resignations to come, plenty of disgruntled people

    A few arrests and a few people may well start squealing.

  • Zig70

    People on slugger like politics, remember loads of facts and figures. The public doesn’t and generally sees all politicians as ego’s and believes they are feathering their own nest. Facts don’t necessarily come into it and perception does. FF needn’t worry, just get the personalities to the front, and new stories. The real scandal for me is the 250k spent telling us that politicians are dodgy and doing sod all about it. That said, I’ve a poor memory, I can understand people not remembering the whole facts. We need another method of finding out if crimes occurred that doesn’t result in the tax payer getting screwed twice. Why can’t the guards do it?

  • Alias

    “Alias, the spinning is beginning to sound a bit desperate, to say the least.”

    What spin? In terms of the percentage of corrupt TDs to total party members, FG was the equal of FF at broadly 10% each. It’s not spin when it’s factual.

    “You also seem confident that Mahon is the totality of political corruption in Ireland. Many others believe it may well just be the beginning of a lot more stuff to come.”

    I don’t know how you formed that impression. I think most of the political class is corrupt but not by the definition that most others apply. The EU has been bribing the political class for decades for the express purpose of obtaining your national sovereignty (which your constitution deemed to be your exclusive property and not within the remit of the political class to sell), and doing it with your money. British intelligence has also had a longstanding foot in the bribery door.

    However, in regard to this issue: after 15 years of enquiry and bugger-all to show for it, only a paranoid fool wouldn’t be confident that the corrupt are in the clear. Indeed, Bertie Ahern was quite confident of that outcome 15 years ago. I know that corruption of TDs is an unnecessary aberration within the planning process.

    “A few arrests and a few people may well start squealing.”

    When has this ever happened? We don’t ‘plea bargain’ in the Irish legal system. Anyone would think it was another Shinner supergrass trial or something…

  • claudius

    This sort of makes me think of France once it was liberated from German occupation. Suddenly it appeared that everyone in France had been in the resistance and only a few people had collaborated. These few were punished then a collective amnesia set in regarding the crimes of the many.
    Now in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger years a great many persons were involved in speculation and a good many in corruption. From the farmer having his field rezoned so 100 houses could be built in the middle of nowhere to the guy buying a house 1 week and then a week later trying to sell it for double the money. Greed got the better of a nation and as the saying goes they lost the run of themselves. But as in France a few heads will be shaved (figuratively speaking) and the nation will move on.

  • Alias

    True enough – except, of course, for the inconvenient fact that the total value of all outstanding mortgages is less than 115 billion (with circa 8% in arrears), whereas Ireland’s external debt is 1.67 trillion (down from its peak of 1.83 trillion). In other words, 93% of the debt has nothing to do with mortgages or homeowners. That’s a failed attempt at collective guilt.

  • Alias

    Anyway, what did the Romans, err, Bertie ever do for Ireland? From a nationalist perspective, he played a crucial role in destroying the nation-state that his party’s former leaders helped create.

    In regard to the so-called peace process, he helped persuade those in Northern Ireland who claimed Irish nationality as their birthright to give up that birthright and accept that there children would be born with British nationality as their birthright but could also apply for an Irish passport if the issue bothered them. He also signed away Ireland’s former claim to what is now no longer disputed to be sovereign British territory. In addition, he gave the United Kingdom sovereignty over key social, economic and cultural institutions of the Irish state – including transferring ownership of the national language beyond the sovereign control of the Irish state to a new supranational authority. This may be good or bad developments depending on your perspective.

    He also opened the flood gates early to immigration in an attempt to introduce other nations which would serve to further undermine the claim of the Irish to a nation-state. If the indigenous Irish could be diluted to 80% or so of the population then that would be the point where it could no longer claim to be a nation-state or to operate as such.

    His other ‘contributions’ include bankrupting the country by surrendering control over its macroeconomic and monetary policy to the EU.

    On the plus side, he helped Irish retailers sell a few extra anoraks (even if they were imported from China).

  • PaulT

    Alias, care to share with the world your formula for calculating corruption, I’m fascinated, can you also reduce it to tell how corrupt an individual is? eg is Flynn 10% corrupt or 75% or 40% …..

    And as for my ‘more to come’ statement, thats because I think its going to pan out a bit like the News International story, the corruption is all the way to the top, so lots of people may have to cop it to protect people like MM and O’Dea,

    Claudius, you miss one important point, Ireland is not at the ‘liberation’ stage yet -their I say – the Germans are still in Dublin. People are still suffering so they are going to be baying for blood for a few years yet.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    PaulT, you might be on to something there. I think Ray Burke could be described as the master of this particular genre and if we could use him as the 100% template perhaps the following scores could be awarded to the better known players.

    Burke 100
    Lawlor 100
    Flynn 75
    Haughey 70
    Ahern 30
    Reynolds 5

    However, maybe extra weighting should be given depending on government ranking. And how would you rank the likes of O Donoghue’s expenses or Woods sweetheart deal with the religious orders? How does money in return for a rezoning vote compare to the likes of the more subjective ‘lifestyle’ donations like those to Ahern and Haughey.

    All marking subject to revision of course (depending on er, appropriate donations)

  • Greenflag

    ‘Greed got the better of a nation and as the saying goes they lost the run of themselves.’

    Nations I’d have said-the USA , UK were not exempt -neither was Iceland , Greece and many others .In fact Wall St & the City of London were to the forefront of the mass fiat money creation and it’s later ‘confiscation ‘i.e legal theft and subsequent passing the bill along to the mass of taxpaying dupes via the paying off/buyout of corrupt politicians .

    ‘But as in France a few heads will be shaved (figuratively speaking) and the nation will move on’

    As of now it doesn’t look as if any of the shaven heads be they politicians or banksters are in any mood to display ‘remorse ‘ for their ‘pillaging’ of societies . It may yet take a literal shaving of heads before the ‘light ‘ switches on with these degenerates .

    It would probably be easier to teach a cat to bark or a dog to meow than to get Bert Ahern or Padraig Flynn or for that matter David Cameron (now once again in the manure) to admit they have been up to their necks in grabbing any dosh available regardless of pretext for self or party interest 🙁

  • Greenflag

    @ tochais siorai,

    Moving beyond the ‘personalities ‘ listed above it might be a good idea to establish an ‘institutional ‘ corruption index for the whole island for governmental and non governmental organisations as well as business and religious groups . I suggest a 1000 index with 0 being considered the perfect score i.e corruption free

    On that basis a present ranking might look like

    Roman Catholic Church 950
    Anglo Irish Bank 945
    Allied Irish 899
    Bank of Ireland 895
    Fianna Fail 890
    SF 650
    DUP 500
    Legal sector 450
    Property Developers 425
    Mass media 300
    UUP 250
    SDLP 245
    AP 200
    Labour Party 200
    Church of Ireland 125
    Methodist Church 95

    Transparency international 2011 has placed Ireland as less corrupt ( 19th) least corrupt country than the USA (24th) . But Ireland has sunk in the ratings from 14th in 2010 to 19th in 2011 whereas the UK has improved from 20th to 16th . The USA continues to sink down the table in the public sector corruption stakes..

    New Zealand is judged the least corrupt for 2011 followed by Denmark , Finland , Sweden, Singapore , Norway , Netherlands , Australia, Switzerland, and Canada .

    Bottom of the table are North Korea and Somalia with Afghanistan tying for third from the bottom in 180th place with Myanmar . Iraq seems to have ‘improved’ to 175th place .

    Meanwhile EU stalwart Italy scrapes in at 69th with Greece in 80th position. These two EU members are seen as more corrupt than many third world countries such as Barbados (16th) Botswana (30th) Israel (36th) Bhutan (38th) Rwanda (49th) Namibia (57th) Cuba (61st) South Africa (64th ).

    The emerging ‘economic ‘ giants have a mixed result with

    Russia sharing 143rd place with Nigeria , Brazil tops the BRIC group in 73rd place with China in 75th and India in 95th .Indonesia improves to 100th with Mexico and the Philippines comes in at 129th . Closer to home -Poland achieves a credible 41st which is 28 places ahead of Italy and 39 ahead of Greece .

    Heres the league table for those who are interested in the phenomenon of comparitive public sector corruption .


  • Alias

    “Alias, care to share with the world your formula for calculating corruption, I’m fascinated, can you also reduce it to tell how corrupt an individual is? eg is Flynn 10% corrupt or 75% or 40% …..”

    My formula for corruption in the legalisitic meaning is the universal one: let the Courts decide. As you might have noticed, neither Ahern or Flynn or, indeed, Haughey, have been do declared to be corrupt. Do you have a formula that is unknown to the Courts or the rest of us? You appear to be applying one.

    I’ve already declared that I think corruption of a duty to promote and protect the national interest is applicable but that is “not by the definition that most others apply.”

  • Alias

    To tidy-up: “neither Ahern or Flynn or, indeed, Haughey, have been declared by a court to be corrupt.”

    So, the question must be: what is your formula? 😉

  • Alias

    One last point. While you might have missed simple maths in school, 10% is very simple to calculate.

    Now, before we begin your remedial lessoon, please take off your socks and look down at your 10 little pinkies.

    Say 1 of those little pinkies has is blue (let’s not concern orselves with why it is discolured as this isn’t the first-aid course), then we can say that 10% of your little pinkies are discoloured.

    Now, if you were born in Cork and therefore had 70 toes and 10% of those toes were discoloured, then you’d have 7 discoloured toes. Still with me or is this getting far to complicated?

    If you were born in Kerry and therefore were born with 40 toes 10% of those toes were discoloured, then you’d have 4 discoloured toes.

    See where this is leading?

    Our Cork inbred has 7 discoloured toes and our Kerry inbred has then you’d have 4 discoloured toes but they both have 10% of their toes discoloured.

    I hope that helped.

  • claudius

    Point taken Greenflag