God knows all we Mayo folk could do with the odd dig-out, on the basis that for us the road to perdition is often littered with potholes and rabid dogs, but we have to say that even the most brass-necked of us had to hold our hands up and say the antics of Beverley Flynn left us all a bit red-faced this week.
On the same day that Tony Gregory was laid to rest, the comparison between the Flynn and the Gregory philosophy was staggering. On the one hand you had humility, and on the other, you had incredulity and a sort of genetic arrogance that seemed to thumb its nose at anyone who should dare question the right of the Mayo TD to her “Independent’s” allowance of €41,000, the sort of amount that many families did not see as an annual wage during the boom years, never mind now.
In politics as in life, timing is everything and post the last Budget and post the arrival of a Government in which we have little confidence, there was never going to be any tolerance for the sort of auld guff that politicians like Ms Flynn and her ancestors before her may have got away with. The people of Ireland have woken up with a jerk in the past few months, and are no longer fooled by the sort of smalltown vocabulary that passes for political intelligence and discourse in this country.
I used to think that Dep Flynn was a politician of great ability, but her judgment of the last decade has shot that to pieces, her refusal to stop trying to take us all for fools will alas be her political legacy.
There comes a time when we all know what is the right thing to do. And this is a time for great humility for all of us. The fact that Dep Flynn had to wait until after her “meeting” with Taoiseach Brian Cowen before changing her mind speaks volumes for her judgment. As an exit strategy from an impossible situation, it was embarrassing.
Dep Flynn said that she did not do anything wrong in claiming the money, but said that she would write to the Oireachtas to inform the houses that she would no longer claim the allowance. Maybe by the letter of the law she didn’t, but as soon as the matter was raised, she should have taken steps to expedite the cessation of that allowance. God knows we all keep the lamh out when it is raining coins, but there are times when it is prudent and noble to be seen to be emptyhanded, especially at a time when thousands of families are hearing that their breadwinners will not be winning any more bread for some time to come.
She said she was deeply hurt by some of the media comments that portrayed her as being dishonest when it emerged that she was claiming the allowance. But nobody is saying that she is dishonest. Nobody is saying it. What they are thinking is another matter.
However, she could have cut all of that off at the pass by being more decisive about dropping the allowance. Once again, the whole saga allows us to see through the veneer of our supposed public figures. What a joke.