Tuesday, June 26, 2007
All empires bear within them the seeds of their own destruction, history informs us.
Even as Rome was in it's Imperial pomp, with Caligula appointing his horse as consul, or Nero blowing the entire Imperial fortune on interminable poetry contests, a bit like John O'Donoghue used to, we can see with retrospect that the fall of the Caesar family was inevitable.
So it will be with Fianna Fail and it's rum cast of dynasties.
As their grip on Ireland, or at least the 26 counties of it they still claim is Ireland, copperfastens, we have seen the many various dissenters come scampering back into the fold for the third term.
The Donegal Blaneys, who'd make a Shinner feel Unionist, have now signed up to the whip. So have the Kerry publicans the Healy-Raes, their ongoing feud with the former minister for poetry readings now ended in their favour with his demotion to head boy of the Dail.
And so to the Flynns. Pee Flynn, as Senator David Norris was wont to call him, was classic Fianna Fail through and through. Viscerally clientelist, he first showed up as a TD in the Dail wearing a white suit, not unlike that worn by journalist Martin Bell when he ran against the corrupt Tories as an independent.
Of course, it was the Tories rather than Martin Bell that Flynn intended to emulate if not surpass.
He was an early exponent of fundamentalist Fianna Faildom. That's one way of describing those within the Soldiers of Destiny who believe it is their divine right to rule Ireland without interference from anyone, whether it be the Opposition, the electorate, or god forbid, a coalition government partner.
He opposed the coalition with the PDs, not because the PDs are an evil bunch of political degenerates, but because the coalition 'hit at Fianna Fail core values.' He opposed Mary Robinson as President, not for the sane reasons that she was another party's candidate and a lefty, but because she was 'a wife and mother.'
By 1993, he was such an embarrassment, that Fianna Fail parcelled him off to Europe where he became part of the EU Commission that had to resign en masse due to allegations of malpractice in 1999.
That same year, he went on the Late, Late Show and openly boasted about taking bungs from developers. He, poor diddums, actually complained about the hassles of his millionaire lifestyle, his houses, cars and housekeepers.
The public's collective jaw dropped to hear how the Fianna Fail inner circle actually lived, for this was in the days before the full extent of Haughey's corruption and ferrying of Charvet shirts via the diplomatic black box was known.
And so to Beverly, the offspring, the one proud daddy Pee Flynn called 'a class act.'
Beverly worked as an investments advisor for a bank, and advised her customers to salt money away in off-shore accounts to hide it from the taxman. So while the rest of us were paying taxes through our noses to Fianna Fail governments, Bev's 'high net worth' customers were not.
RTE kindly let the world know that Bev had been up to this. This was important, as she was now a TD in her daddy's old constituency. Bev took a libel case against the national broadcaster. Bev lost, because she had been guilty of all the things RTE had alleged.
Bev now owed an awful lot of money in legal fees. If she'd been made pay it all, she could have been declared bankrupt. Then again, if she'd married her millionaire boyfriend who used to belong to someone else incidentally, she could have avoided bankruptcy, but would have been left with many fewer millions than she was used to.
If she'd become bankrupt, she would have been removed as a TD, and a by-election would have ensued in Enda Kenny's own constituency. That would have cost Bertie twice over in relation to his dolly mixture majority, as he'd have lost a vote and FG most likely would have gained one.
So suddenly RTE decides to settle the action for the legal bills. All of a sudden, like. Straight after the formation of Bertie's latest government. Sheer coincidence, you know.
And then Bertie's on the telly, talking Bev up to the skies, how it'd be great to have her back in the party with her troubles behind her, and sure, couldn't she be a great Minister some day soon?
They're laughing at us now. Caligula has just announced he wants to make his horse consul, and all of us are tugging at our togas in embarrassment, nodding dumbly and muttering, 'Well, if you must...'
But let us set aside our shock at the venality of this series of events. It should surprise no one if swine seek to put their head in a trough. We've seen decades of tribunals, we're all numb to the shock of such things now.
Let's instead consider the cost. RTE, the national broadcaster, are down around two million euro. That's a hole in their budget that's going to come from the licence fee. The licence fee paid by normal viewers like you and me, including many people who can barely afford it.
Let's consider the cost to our democracy. The good people of Castlebar, and they are good people, have elected the noxious Pee Flynn repeatedly, elevating him to the point where Fianna Fail behemoths start thinking in terms of Imperial dynasties.
Pee promoted the 'class act', and the Castlebar electorate duly voted her in. And then did it again, even after she had been bravely revealed by RTE to be assisting tax evasion.
We the people must shoulder the responsibility for the culture of excess, corruption, entitlement and arrogance that seem to hang around the upper reaches of Fianna Fail like a miasmic haze of smog.
Like the Roman Senate, we have permitted these people power and permitted their excesses to develop and degenerate.
And the next time the TV Licence Fee inspector calls round, remember how your hundreds of hard earned euro are paying Bev Flynn's lawyers in defending a libel case she lost.
And seek the same percentile settlement as Bev. Offer to pay half the money asked for. Tell them you want the same deal they gave Bev. And then drop me an email from Mountjoy Prison, which is where they'll send you.
But at least they have telly in Mountjoy, so if you behave, you might even get to see Bev being appointed junior minister in the next government shake-up on RTE news.
She'll be smiling. She'll be laughing at you.
P.S. Watch Pee Flynn's staggering hubris on the Late, Late Show at Public Inquiry's blog.