Sometimes it’s great being an outsider. Over a quarter of a century I’ve tried to understand and assimilate into Irish culture in many ways, but where justice and accountability are concerned, my adopted home remains to this Englishman a foreign country.
For a moment last week I couldn't remember what it was that Garda McCabe had originally blown his whistle about. Barely surprising really, when you consider how depraved the affair has become since then.
Penalty points: that’s where this matter started, and while the UK drips with vice and scandal, when the finger of blame is pointed at public figures, they either step down or go inside.
Ex-cabinet minister Chris Huhne and his wife Vicky Pryce were both sentenced to eight months in jail for conspiring to swap penalty points. Job done.
Here in Ireland a conspiracy to help bigwigs avoid penalty points has gone the way of all Irish scandals: she said that he told her that they never spoke about what didn’t happen, never, not a word was uttered, not a paragraph written, no report made or memo sent, until the other fella says well, now that he thinks of it again, he did say that, in person, and actually in great detail to both himself and herself, many weeks before, but when he’d said they’d said that, he really didn’t want to say it, because they were not only misleading the Dáil, but oh now isn’t it terrible, they were misleading the Irish people themselves.
Meanwhile the real the Irish people stare hopelessly at their TVs, wondering when these feckin’ gobshites are ever going to pull their heads out of their backsides and get their priorities right.
Instead of force-feeding the gullets of the legal system, stuffing our tax euros into lawyers’ wallets like food down the throats of Foie Gras geese, they might one day return to other questions, such as why do we have to decide whether we can afford a dialysis machine or a CT Scanner?
Every soul in this nation knows well there is ample money to restore HSE patients’ dignities, but it’s wasted in a status quo spawned in a culture that accepts corruption as a way of life; a culture wherein it’s perfectly acceptable to enhance your political career by exploiting a conspiracy that has discredited a brave man.
This colyoom isn’t going all 9/11 on you. Just look at the plain facts. Does one living person truly believe that the specific use of the words ‘digital penetration’ was a ‘clerical error’?
Casting a shadow over lesser matters such as who is running the country, there hovers a much darker question: why does Irish society tolerate such decisions being made in the highest of places?
Individuals and cartels acting with impunity are capable of doing whatever they like in this country, and none of them will ever spend time in jail for any of it.
There is no law of criminal defamation in Ireland, so even in the extremely unlikely eventuality of somebody actually being found guilty of perpetrating a smear campaign, it does not constitute a crime. That’s the way they’ll get off, just as they always do in this country.
Arriving in Ireland half way through the Beef Tribunal, my jaw dropped when two years later the accused parties were given the gentlest of admonitions.
Since then there’s been so many scandals and tribunals that I started to compile a list, but only made it as far as the ‘B’s (Burke, Buchanan, Barr, Barron, Breen…) because I found myself falling asleep counting corrupt Irish sheep.
Truly, Irish sleaze oozes from Adams to Zappone, protected by endless tribunals that can run longer than the lifespan of the judge.
Collectively they’ve cost us taxpayers well over a billion euro, after over 60% of the costs are awarded to witness lawyers, banks and other institutions.
A tidy billion euro spent, yet damn all justice served. Our rulers sit far from question and accountability, protected by a balustrade of obfuscation.
We know that it makes no difference which combination of political parties are in charge in the Dáil. We know that it made no difference whether Kenny or Martin was Taoiseach.
Both would offer the same shabby performance, seeking only to protect their career at the expense of a man, now increasingly lost in this process, whose life was devastated by his own State, on a mission to destroy him.
Opposition parties failed to serve the country by delivering justice. Instead Independents stood on their heads, spinning like hip hop dancers, desperately trying to appease and appear separate from government, while simultaneously wholly a part of government, because they want us to believe they have authority, without any guilt by association.
The human ingredients of Irish government are irrelevant. What matters here is a country that has given birth to an accepted culture of smear and character assassination.
An honest policeman’s efforts to seek justice have ripped apart his life, been transformed into a sex abuse scandal, a cover-up and a vote of confidence in the government.
We’ll never know why was there such fear about what a whistleblower had to say, as with all Irish scandals, the guilty parties will never be found.
Those who decided to destroy this man will survive, protected by their high towers. The enquiry will run for years, without anybody ever being held to account, let alone in handcuffs.