Discipline and proportionality are what failed the former Ceann Comhairle…

Interesting defence of John O’Donoghue in today’s Irish Times:

Other than a general sense that he was tearing the arse out of it, we still have no settled view of the precise nature of O’Donoghue’s sin. Everybody agrees that some of his expenses were excessive, but nobody has set out a clear measure by which this could be judged, or proposed any guidelines by which, in future, the scale of similar accusations might be assessed.

Quite so. Although I don’t buy the idea that ‘due process’ was as open to Eamon Gilmore as Mr Waters is trying to imply… Getting rid of a chair of a democratic assembly nearly always requires some form of regicide in most western democracies… Despite what Waters (and many others) claims, there is no due process for forcing a Ceann Comhairle to come clean, or walk the plank…

Confidence in the house is the only critical metric on that score…Otherwise proportionality is the key measure; and that is and probably cannot and perhaps even should not be legislated for a priori by some artificial formula or other. But whatever can be said of the intemperance of some of the critics of Mr O’Donoghue, the manner of his going has revealed an inability of the house’s own auditing mechanisms (ie the Oireachtas Commission’s job) to impose even the minimum of discipline to the extent that the former Ceann Comhairle ignored pressure to discontinue the level of expenditure he had once sustained as Minister of Arts and Sports… (as noted previously here on Slugger…)

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  • Brian Walker

    There’s lot of sense in the above. I’m not sure that due process is even advisable. O’Donoughue would be advised not to harp on too much about natural justice as itlooks as if he’d lose in the court of public opinion. He’d be better to look next door at Speaker Martin who was able to quit with a few shreds of dignity left. Michael Martin was toppled as Speaker largely behind the scenes after it was apparent that his public apology for stalling on an FOI request to disclose details of the expenses system wasn’t enough. It’s true he wasn’t removed mainly because he had personally overcharged on his expenses (though there was a minor issue there) but because had resisted pressure for transparency. It’s also true that the Dail isn’t engulfed in quite the same crisis over expenses but there are obvious similarities. But when the climate changes, as it has in both the Commons and the Dail, it’s the chair who gets it in the neck if he is even slightly tainted, as the Chair must be seen to be whiter than white. The Chair may not have much power but he swers the standard. His departure is a sign to the public that a long overdue tightening up is on the way.

  • RepublicanStones

    He said in his speech of ‘abdication’ that he was unaware of the cumulative costs of his expenses. If this is true then surely its a fault in the civil service and expenses red tape itself. Not to excuse the man, but one can hardly imagine him on the plane to china waving his 9000euro ticket to his wife whilst simultaneously exclaiming “Waaahaaaayyyyy!”

  • DerTer

    I’ve already made clear on another thread that I don’t regret the passing of JOD. Moreover, John Waters is all over the place. Surely the thing that will have hit most people between the eyes about JOD’s expenses claims – both as Minister for Sport and later as Ceann Comhairle – is the amazing consistency with which so many of his trips abroad coincided with important horse race meetings in foreign parts. “Tearing the arse out of it”, or what!

  • Mick Fealty

    The Department of Sport and Arts like most domestic departments have significant interests overseas. So it’s hardly surprising that they run up such big bill. Going to blog Whelan’s piece in yesterday’s IT this morning… putting expenses online is the only way to go after this… After all, if they don’t Gavin and Mark will do it for them…