8 December 2015
By David O’Sullivan
RENUA Ireland Senator Paul Bradford (who hails from near Mallow, Co Cork, but now lives in Dublin) speaking in the Seanad, has said that the actions described by Prime Time raises to real issues as to whether it is possible to implement a democratic revolution in this state. Mr Bradford warned that:
‘‘The actions of the councillors, detailed by Prime Time, are certainly a source of public scandal.
But acts such as those detailed by Prime Time do not evolve out of a vacuum.
A number of councillors do appear at a minimum to have behaved inappropriately.
However, leadership starts at the top and two of the dominant themes in this government have consisted of the ongoing vibrancy of a culture of cronyism and non-accountability.
We see for example that those who are sanctioned by Tribunals such as Moriarty suffer no consequence.
In terms of the ongoing culture of cronyism the Seanad knows all about that in the wake of the Mc Nulty affair.
However in the absence of senior leaders at the top providing a moral framework are we surprised that bad behaviour continues to be a feature of political life at the bottom.
We need to recognise that the spotlight being directed on local authorities and their members across the country should, perhaps, be redirected closer to home.
Many years ago, the former Tánaiste, Mr. Dick Spring spoke about a cancer in the political system.
He was speaking about a particular individual at that time and expressed his views about that gentleman.
However, there remains a cancer in the political system – the cancer of cronyism.
We saw it in this House about 18 months ago during the disgraceful Mc Nulty affair.
We see it in the unreformed quango system or in areas such as Judicial appointments in respect of which people in the Law Library know months in advance who is going to be appointed to what position.
We see it in the distribution of grants and funds in various schemes across the country.
Let us not pretend.
Cronyism is part of our political system and political culture and always has been and it most assuredly has not been exorcised by this government.
While the problems at local authority level, where they exist, must be examined, we must start much closer to home and the buck stops with us and with the Government.
Everything about our political system, our appointments system, patronage and favouritism is as bad now as it ever was.
It might be old fashioned but Harry Truman famously noted of political responsibility that the buck stops at the President’s desk.
Here the buck appears to just keep sliding.
In the case of Irish politics it is time we left it stop at the top desk.
In that regard there has been mention of the need for an anti-corruption Bill.
I am sure that is somewhere in the ether waiting to be passed, and the sooner the better if we are to build a new culture in Irish politics.