Sunday, April 13, 2008

a cuckoo in madam's nest

i've always like Irish Times journalist Paul Cullen. with his cutglass south dublin accent and propensity to cycle around dublin he seems to be in many respects the identikit denizen of tara st. he also showed admirable taste in music by being spotted once at a go-betweens concert.

he did however previously show plenty of evidence of thinking outside the box. unlike most in his milieu he supported the 2004 referendum which restricted the rights to irish citizenship. he has also complained about the usefulness of the tribunal system.

however, and my own self-righteousness could be accused of running amok here, he seems to have bitten off more than he can chew with his recent cut at the mahon tribunal's treatment of bertie ahern. it smacked, ultimately of an irish times attempt to go more native, than the natives themselves. its one thing fianna fail ministers engaging in poor debating school rhetoric in favour of the taoiseach, but its quite another for a distinguished journalist to be at it. consider the following;

"three times over the last 11 years, ahern has returned from the polls with a democratic mandate from the voters"
- and does this give him the right to do what he wants? one of the most pernicious devices in the debates of the last few months is the notion of the dictatorship of the 42%. the idea that we now have a quasi first past the post electoral system, which gives the minority a right to dictate to the 58%.

"the unseemly ousting of the taoiseach raises the bar for political rectitude in this country to new heights"
- if they are new heights, it's coming from a spectacular low base. we have previously let haughey, burke ( a decent man hounded, according to bertie ahern ) lawlor etc run amok, whilst under this taoiseach it seems as if all ministers are virtually unsackable )

"but we may not blithely apply the standards of today to that period"
- ah, we can actually. as many commentators have pointed out there were long-standing ethical guidelines for ministers.

it's interesting that cullen, and the taoiseach other defenders, have never for one moment challenged the evidence that has been put forward by the tribunal, nor have they claimed that the fairly obvious insinuations the man from the clapham omnibus would arrive at, are faulty presumptions. instead they have engaged in diversion, obfuscation, and periodic lashes at the tribunal, who they claim to support out of one side of their mouths.

the media just reported the facts, and the taoiseach made the correct decision to resign. and paul cullen would doubtless have lost the "lit & deb" debate.

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