I have received some correspondence over the last few months telling me that I am unbalanced in my column because I have an anti-Fianna Fail agenda. This would be one of the more moderate and considered communications. Others have not been quite so polite. To set the record straight here is my personal position.
I am not anti-Fianna Fáil per se but I am definitely anti this Fianna Fáil government. I have no respect for the culture within the party that condones stroke pulling, corruption, and self-enrichment at the expense of the electorate. Fianna Fáil has morphed into something reflective of the baser elements of political and public life. I believe the Fianna Fáil party is sick and it needs rehabilitation. This can only come about through a protracted spell in opposition. I cannot equate the current shambles with its past. Objective analysts, whatever their political persuasion or viewpoint, generally agree that such a hooky philosophy was not that of de Valera, Lemass, or Lynch, whatever other failings they may have had. Their vision, imperfect though it may have been, was driven by an idealism far removed from self-enrichment and corruption.
Since then we have had such beacons of integrity as Charlie Haughey, Sean Doherty, Bertie Ahern, Liam Lawlor, Pee Flynn, Ray Burke, Brian Lenihan, Denis Foley, Ivor Callely, Willie O Dea, John O Donoghue, and Beverley Cooper Flynn to name but a few. Locally we have been subjected to the ignominy of Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahy being convicted in the courts and subsequently being re-elected. The saying that power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely could have been written with many of these guys in mind. This list is just of some of those tainted by the allegations of sleaze and corruption. I have not even entered the domain of devising a list of incompetence.
But we should note that some of the most startling issues of our time are all driven by this current crop of Fianna Fáil representatives. NAMA, Anglo Irish Bank, nationalisation, failure to demand accountability from the Church, decentralisation, E-Voting, PPARS, capitulation to the banks, increasing VAT to 21.5 per cent, tax cuts, medical cards, cutting payments to the blind, the establishment of the HSE as it now exists, FAS budgets, pension levy, cutting top rate of public servants pay by a smaller amount, etc. The list is seemingly endless but it all results in the taxpayer paying the bill for their selfish arrogance and corruption.
This is why I am taking this public stand against this Fianna Fáil government. And I will continue to do so until we have driven a change in the acceptable culture in public life where honesty, integrity, and a commitment to public service are once again the cornerstone of our political system.
I will not vote for a Fianna Fáil or a Green party in the next election. But I do believe Ireland needs a strong and healthy Fianna Fáil just as we need a strong and healthy opposition right now. Democracy demands strong opposition and that is where Fianna Fáil must spend some time until they have found their moral compass. Brian Cowen’s mutterings to the faithful that he did not need anyone to keep him straight are starting to sound comical. He might not need a moral watchdog but his party does and he is after all the leader of the party. Does he not feel some responsibility for what his beloved party has evolved into or is he simply too prejudiced to see the real picture?
There are many honest, capable, and visionary people in the Fianna Fáil party. These are the people who must rescue the party from itself. These are the people that must be given their chance. They are not part of the old paradigm and they are not tainted by the culture of sleaze and corruption which has its origins in the fundraising vehicle known as TACA driven initially by Haughey in the sixties. It must end now with a new government of new people. A vote for any existing Fianna Fáil politician is simply an endorsement of failure. Over time this may change and so may I. But right now I feel disgusted and betrayed and will do all I can to drive change. I hope my position is clear.