Garret fails to account for era of political corruption

 In part 2 of his musings on civic morality in the Republic, Garret FitzGerald tackles the question of why the lack of it only became fatal in recent decades in a most tortuous and evasive piece of prose. The old warriors of the independence era at least had personal integrity in common, he says.  When they were about to pass on, the Fianna Failers among them chose Garret and other political opponents to confide  their death bed fears.  

when in the mid-1980s Seán MacEntee was dying, he asked to see me, in part so as to confide his deep concern for the future of the State because of what was happening within his party, Fianna Fáil.

Unhappily, because of the widespread lack of a tradition of civic responsibility or sense of civic morality – for which I fear the Catholic Church must bear some of the blame – the disappearance of the last of the revolutionary generation from government in the 1960s removed what turned out to have been the only barrier to the spread of a socially defective value system at the hitherto notably honest area of our national politics.

The name “Haughey” is studiously avoided. He evens pulls his softest punch.  

…it should, in fairness be added that the number of national politicians who engaged in personal corruption for their own financial benefit has in fact been very small – few enough to be counted on the fingers of two hands..

The veteran statesman, once dubbed only slightly ironically as Garret the Good, ducks any analysis of what went wrong and fails even to refer directly to his own era. Why is this? Was he forever traumatised at the start of his sparring relationship with  Haughey for the crafty attack mounted on him for pointing out Haughey’s “ flawed pedigree?   Haughey’s handlers deliberately chose to misunderstand this as a reference to the sainted parents, whereas of course it was about Haughey’s mafia behaviour, including the charge of gun running to the north for which he was acquitted.   Even now Garret holds his nose at corruption, when he should be giving it a vigorous blow.

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  • aquifer

    What is his problem? It is not unpatriotic to point out that some of your countrymen are crooks.

    Though restricting wrongdoing to ‘personal corruption for their own financial benefit ‘ leaves open the possibility that all the political parties were grafting away for party funds, in which case he as a party leader must also keep mum.

  • pippakin

    Garret fails to account for era of political corruption. There’s a surprise. Is it possible anyone expected anything more?

  • I always laugh when I see the former head of Fine Gael talking about corruption as though it had nothing to do with his party.

    I’m sure there’s more to come out in the wash when some people are dead.

  • Alias

    “We all know the consequences of this widespread deterioration in the ethical standards of business as well as politics, which has come very close to destroying the financial viability of our State.”

    “There can be little doubt that a decline in standards, not just in politics but also in business, in banking, and in parts of the public service, has been largely responsible for the recent collapse of our financial system and of our economy.”

    Garret is a poor propagandist. Other eurogombeens have this line down pat, i.e. that the collapse of the monetary system has nothing whatsover to do with those who govern the monetary system (the EU), and is instead an entrirely domestic issue.

    Garret, on the other hand, can’t even make his argument without contradicting himself. He wants us to beleive that the collapse of the monetary system was caused by endemic political corruption in the latter half of the last century but then destroys his own argument by claiming that political corruption, far from being endemic, counts for a number “few enough to be counted on the fingers of two hands” out of several generations of politics.

    He, unsurprisingly, makes no reference to the flawed pedigree of a former Taoiseach, still active in public life, accepting a subtantial debt write-off from his former Attorney General in his then role as chairman of a well-known bank to which said former Taoiseach owed a substantial sum of money.

    If Garret would have us believe that both business and politics are endemically currupt, then he ought to produce some evidence to support his claim. The reality is that Ireland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world, ranked at No 14 in the Transparency International index.

    http://transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010/results

    Incidentally, this isn’t the only botched piece of europhiliac propaganda from Garret. He told us in this last article that the Irish have a flaw in their character, a post-colonial hangover, that compels them to buy property. This is at odds with with Garret’s insistence that ‘one size fits all’ monetary policy would fit Ireland too since the Irish were no different than the rest of the Eurozone member states nations.

  • Munsterview

    Brian : ” Why is this? Was he forever traumatised at the start of his sparring relationship with Haughey for the crafty attack mounted on him for pointing out Haughey’s “ flawed pedigree? ….”

    That the ‘Garret the good’ label was dropped by his admirers may have something to do with the fact that opponents that included some Fianna Failed and others started referring to ‘Garret The Good Bullshitter’ and for a brief period it began to gain traction.

    The myth is out there that only Fianna Failed personnel were up to their necks in corruption. Not true, not true at all. Fianna Failed and Huughey, Burke et al may have brass necked corruption to a blatant art form but those of us with back-room ‘insider’ experience and long in the political tooth can well recall when admiring FG types were referring to Lowrey as ‘our Charlie Haughey’ as the money millions rolled in.

    What of John Bruton’s infamous remark when an angry and concerned FG party councillor informed him that FG East Coast councillors were taking bribes and facilitating the voiding of planing rules that ” Fine Gael is not a party of altar boys” Indeed !

    This same John Bruton has only to give the nod and the Fine Gael party preferred nomination for the State Presidency is his for the taking, if the media reports are correct.

    There are more than a few of the heavies and back-room people from that period that now central to the current government. They were ‘pragmatists’ back then and still are to-day.

    Whatever ‘Garret The Good’ is, he is not a fool. Garrett personally may be a man of sober habits but he knew that other members of of the early seventies Collation Government were raging drunks unfit for public office. His stance on the ‘President O’Dalaigh affair is a hand wringing cringe that stinks to this day while his attitude to the flagrant violations of civil rights by ‘The Heavy Gang’ said all that needed to be said to me and others like me regarding his hypocrisy about parliamentarianism and respect for ‘constitutional means’

    If I can come up with at least one serious political or State scandal a month for the four decades I spend involved in public life, keyed in journalists could come up with one a week, if not one a day for all that time. Why did the majority of these stories never make the press ?

    In a garda informer/ child sex abuser case I have seen the Dep. Of Justice officials facilitated by the Dep of External Affairs subvert an Order of The Supreme Court in a Foreign jurisdiction by the Dep of Justice sending a covering letter to the foreign court stating that the Irish Supreme Court did not have the authority to make the ruling it did.

    The Irish Dep of Justice had proposed and requested that same order from the Supreme Court and the Department’s own people in the State Solicitor’s Office had drafted the contents of that order for the Supreme Court.

    Every bastion of the Twenty Six County Establishment have been founding wanting, negligent and most corrupt, all that is save the Irish Judiciary, a few ‘problem judges’ forced to resign aside. In every other country where corrupt politicians had the appointment of Judges, they appointed corrupt, pliable people to facilitate and rubber stamp that corruption !

    We are indeed most fortunate that despite all this corruption in the public system, we still had men and women appointed over the past four decades that were whiter than white and cleaner than clean. Most fortunate indeed!

    Maybe, just maybe now, some more of the scandals from the early seventies on will come into the public arena. If they do, with each scandal the reputation of ‘Garrett The Good’ and his sins of omission in not standing up back then and saying in the Cabinet Collective, not in my name, I dissent, will be seen as little better than those involved in the commission and execution of the various corruptions an/or excesses of power.

    Coney and Donegan et al never pretended to be anything other than what they were in reality. The same cannot be said for Garret and his reputation, in my personal opinion, is in for some demolition job at the hands of future historians.