Thursday, May 6, 2010

on passing by - again
I don’t know what to make of all these advertisements in the media for gold. They all stress they will take any amount, any condition, and the only stipulation seems to be that you have to be over eighteen to take part. How they are going to check this is beyond me, so basically anyone could send in stuff and get paid. It certainly seems like an almost foolproof get rich scheme for burglars and thieves. Rob some gold, send it off in the insured envelope and get the cash. As the gold is all melted down to make new ingots you don’t even have to worry about the stuff turning up again as evidence. Although most of these companies are only offering about forty per cent of the gold’s market value that is still a lot more than your average thief receives if he tries to “fence” stolen gold so it’s a win-win situation for the thief and the company buying the gold. I just wonder how long its going to be before the burglary rate goes through the roof.

I know Willie O’Dea finally did the right thing and resigned but the whole episode has left a new stench on the Government. O’Dea’s attempts to slither away from the mess were not only embarrassing but totally below the level of conduct we are entitled to from a T.D., never mind a Government Minister. When I heard him portray himself as a victim it was both funny and shocking. His speech in the Dail was riddled with half truths, inaccuracies and lies. The assertion that affidavits’ are routinely changed was rightly rounded on by legal experts but let us not forget that O’Dea is one of these experts so had to know he was indulging in porkies. He used legal niceties to deny perjury and bolster his position. One wonders where the whole sorry saga would have gone if the reporter had not recorded the interview. Then again it wasn’t the first time O’Dea was caught on tape to his detriment. What was almost as bad was the attitude of the Taoiseach and other Ministers. For Brian Cowan to say that lying under oath in a legal document was a “personal matter “brings into question his judgement. When he says it about a serving Government Minister it surely brings into question his attitude towards the laws of the land. Then again the upholders of these same laws don’t seem to mind that O’Dea didn’t see too much wrong with lying and don’t seem to be minded to take any legal sanctions against the ex Minister. So what else is new.

While we are on the subjects of Ministers attitudes it would be churlish not to mention Trevor Sargent and present Justice Minister Dermot Ahern. After Mr Sargent made what he called an accidental boo boo he at least had the apparent backbone and morals to tender a swift resignation. Returning to his old form Pat Rabbitte opined that it was too much of a coincidence for the information to come into the public domain so soon after the Greens had forced the resignation of O’Dea. Addressing Minister Ahern he mused that you could only regard it as a coincidence if you believed in the tooth fairy. Rather than laugh and smirk his way through as he had done during the O’Dea vote of no confidence Ahern got the back up. The following day he announced that he had ordered the Garda Commissioner to instigate an investigation into how private Garda documents found their way into an evening newspaper and to provide him with a report on the matter. In a massive break with tradition Ahern then promised that the report would be published as soon as it was ready and hoped that all the people who had smeared him would withdraw their unfounded comments. The decision to publish the report raises two profoundly disturbing issues.
For years and years we have become used to politicians calling for reports any time the brown stuff hits the fan and yet the majority of these reports never see the light of day. Where the reports are eventually published it is normally on foot of public or media pressure and yet we now have a Justice Minister pressurising the Gardai and promising publication because he himself feels under pressure. What about all the other people who were under pressure and were never given the chance to protect their good name, either in public or in a report.
The second problem with publication is the effect on the whole legal process. If an individual is named in the report as the source of the leaked documents then taking legal proceeding at a later stage against the individual would be a waste of time and money as the individual would have no problem convincing a Judge that the publication of the report had prejudiced his chances of a fair trial.
Then again if one was devious enough I suppose if you wanted to clear your name and prevent sanctions against the person who leaked the documents then publication would be the perfect way to go.

On to another Ahern. Isn’t it grand to see how well Bertie is getting on since the ungrateful rabble in Fianna Fail forced him onto the backbenches, especially in light of how he almost singlehandedly brought us the Celtic Tiger, which he knows we would still have if he was still in charge. At least he is in a better position than most to keep the recessionary wolf from the door. Oh how ye all laughed when Bertie won a small sterling fortune betting on the horses. Just to show that the luck was no fluke he recently won ten grand on a lotto in his local, an amount not to be sneezed at but still a mere trifle compared to the taxpayers largesse towards our dear Bertie. Despite the cut in salary announced in the budget Bertie still takes in over ninety six thousand euro a year as a TD. His expenses have probably dropped as he seems to rarely visit the Dail what with all the foreign lecture tours, book signings, pub openings etc but this non attendance does not impact on the big money. Just to ensure that no hardship is endured he is also entitled to a pension as an ex Minister. Fair enough, one would say, sure wouldn’t we all like to look forward to a nice pension. The problem is that the pension is almost ninety nine grand a year, yes, ninety nine grand. To really put the icing on the cake he doesn’t even have to wait for it, it’s paid to him now. And hes not the only one. Other former Ministers, still getting the TDs salary, include Rory O’Hanlon, eighty two grand, Michael Woods, thirty three grand and Michael Noonan, thirty nine grand. It used to be said that the only time the Dail chamber was full for a vote was the same time that the vote was carried unanimously by the House. And the vote was for? Salary and pensions of course. See, they are not as thick as they look.
I am not sure what will happen but at the time of writing Aer Lingus management has finally found some backbone. After four months of negotiations with the unions one group has rejected the plan. The response of the managers?
Good Luck lads and lassies. Finally some sense.
All for now, Mike Edmonds, March 2010.

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