Fianna Fail’s Fifty Ways to Laugh at Voters
If last Friday’s opinion polls are true, the Irish electorate may be finally realising that Fianna Fail have spent years in power laughing at us every day, serving up wave after wave of scandals, any one of which could bring down a Government in a functioning democracy, but knowing that we have become so desensitised by the sheer volume that we accept them as normal.
And so far they have gotten away with at least fifty ways to laugh at voters, including taking the highest-paid political salaries in the democratic world, Bertie Ahern’s incredible fairy-tales about getting dig-out loans from plasterers, giving £30,000 to someone he can’t remember and getting briefcases of cash from future landlords who were at dinners but didn’t eat the dinners, Frank Dunlop’s stash of bribes for buying councillors, Liam ‘Mr Big’ Lawlor being jailed three times after chairing the Dail Ethics Committee, Michael Collins being found guilty of tax evasion, Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahey being jailed for fraud while chairing a Prison Visiting Committee, Ivor Callely having his house painted for free and John Ellis owing money to farmers yet both being made Senators after the electorate voted them out of the Dail, €52 million so far spent on unused electronic voting machines, using taxpayers money to make secret deals with scandal-hit independent TDs, creating new Junior Ministers with salaries of €150,000 a year, appointing people to State boards because they are your friends, Willie O’Dea posing with guns pointed at cameras, Jim McDaid drunk driving on the wrong side of a busy dual carriageway, GV Wright drunk driving and knocking over a nurse, Conor Lenihan referring to Turkish workers as kababs, Ray Burke accepting corrupt payments from property developers and radio station owners and being jailed for breaking a tax law he had helped to pass, Beverly Flynn helping people to evade tax and suing RTE for telling people about it, PJ Mara failing to co-operate with a Tribunal, Ned O’Keefe voting on issues his family had business interests in, Joe Jacob giving comical interviews on radio that resulted in useless iodine tablets being sent to every house in the country, Charlie McCreevy nominating a disgraced ex-judge to a £147,000 job as Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Denis Foley ‘hoping against hope’ that his £100,000 was not in an illegal offshore account, Padraig Flynn complaining about the difficulties of maintaining three houses in 1999 on ‘just £100,000 a year’, and a Tribunal finding that Charles Haughey took €45 million in today’s money and granted favours in return.
All of the above have happened since Bertie Ahern became leader of Fianna Fail in 1994. There is a full list below of the most obvious fifty recent Fianna Fail scandals, and I’m sure I have left out a lot more. So, while the opinion polls show that more people are waking up to this, please help to spread the word.
And here is the full list of fifty ways to laugh at voters.
Fianna Fail’s Fifty Ways to Laugh at Voters
1. In October 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern became the highest paid Prime Minister in the democratic world at €310,000, more than US President George Bush at €279,000. Fianna Fail Ministers such as Willie O’Dea are paid more than US Vice President Dick Cheney.
2. In October 2007, former Fianna Fail Government Press Secretary Frank Dunlop told the Mahon Tribunal that property developer Owen O’Callaghan paid off a debt of £10,700 for Fianna Fail councillor Colm McGrath when he was facing a court judgment.
3. In October 2007, a book was published that included a claim that a serving Government Minister has admitted taking cocaine, and that he wasn’t the only one doing it. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has made no effort to investigate this.
4. In September 2007, Fianna Fail TD Michael Collins was found guilty in court of obtaining a tax clearance certificate under false pretences. He had previously made a €130,000 tax settlement arising from a bogus non-resident bank account.
5. In September 2007, jailed Fianna Fail councillor Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahey had missed six months of council meetings, and by law he should have been deemed to have resigned. He escaped this by asking the council to deem his absence to be ‘due to illness and attendance in Dublin’.
6. In September 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, while being questioned at the Mahon Tribunal, accepted that his earlier story that Celia Larkin had made a £30,000 sterling transaction on his behalf could not be correct, unless the bank records were inaccurate.
7. In September 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, while being questioned at the Mahon Tribunal, said that he must have given £30,000 to somebody else (to make a transaction that the bank had no record for), but he didn’t know who he gave the money to.
8. In August 2007, Bertie Ahern appointed as a Senator former Fianna Fail TD Ivor Callely, who had just lost his Dail seat in a general election, and who had resigned as a Junior Minister after a scandal in 2005.
9. In August 2007, Bertie Ahern appointed as a Senator former Fianna Fail TD John Ellis, who had just lost his Dail seat in a general election, and who had resigned as chair of an Oireachtas committee after a scandal in 1999.
10. In August 2007, it was revealed that Fianna Fail-led Governments have so far spent €52 million on obtaining and storing electronic voting machines that have only been used once, in a number of constituencies in 2002.
11. In July 2007, after a strenuous seven days of work since being elected in mid-June, the Dail adjourned for a three-month summer holiday.
12. In July 2007 the Standards in Public Office Commission said that Fianna Fail had failed to report a donation in the party’s statutory declarations for 2005.
13. In June 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made secret deals, using taxpayers money, with independent TDs to secure their support as Taoiseach. Two of these independent TDs, Beverly Flynn and Michael Lowry, had previously been forced to resign from their parties after scandals.
14. In June 2007, Fianna Fail changed the law to create three new Junior Ministers with salaries of €150,000 a year. They had previously done this in 1977 and 1980. When Fine Gael did the same in 1995, Fianna Fail called it an abuse of the taxpayer and an act of hypocrisy, and Bertie Ahern vowed to abolish the new posts.
15. In March 2007, Fianna Fail councillor Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahey was jailed for twelve months after being found guilty of defrauding his own council of €15,000 and falsely implicating an innocent contractor in the crime. The jailed councillor was also chairman of the Limerick Prison visiting committee.
16. In May 2007, stockbroker Padraic O’Connor said that Bertie Ahern was wrong to say that he had given Ahern £5,000 as a loan from a friend in 1993. O’Connor said he was not a friend of Ahern’s, that he had been asked for a political donation of £5,000, that he had given that on a company cheque, and that he had been given in return a false invoice for consultancy work that had not been done.
17. In February 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern praised the Moriarty Tribunal for its ‘outstanding work in painstakingly stripping away the layers of secrecy and obscurity surrounding Mr Haughey’s financial affairs and exposing them to public scrutiny.’
18. In December 2006, the Moriarty Tribunal found that former Taoiseach Charles Haughey took payments of €11.56 million, or €45 million in today’s money, between 1979 and 1996, and granted favours in return.
19. In October 2006, it emerged that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had bought his house from businessman Michael Wall, who had been at a dinner in Manchester at which Ahern was given £8,000 sterling. When asked why he had not previously said that Wall was at the dinner, Ahern replied that Wall had not eaten the dinner.
20. In September 2006, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that, when he was Minister for Finance, he had unexpectedly received a donation of £8,000 sterling from some millionaires who he had a meal with in Manchester on the night before a Manchester United football match.
21. In September 2006, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern accepted that he had appointed people who gave him money to State boards, but he insisted that he did not appoint them because they gave him money. He said he had appointed them because they were his friends.
22. In September 2006, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that he had accepted £39,000 from friends, including the brilliantly-named Paddy the Plasterer, in 1993 and 1994. He said it was loans, and that he had tried to pay them back but they had all refused.
23. In September 2006, when Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was first asked about allegations of receiving from €50,000 and €100,000 from businessmen, he told journalists that a lot of the report was correct but that ‘the figures are off the wall.’ This, of course, was true, because he got some of the money ‘off Michael Wall’.
24. In June 2006, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said at the funeral of Charles Haughey that: ‘He was a consummate politician… The definition of a patriot is someone who devotes all their energy to the betterment of their countrymen. Charles Haughey was a patriot to his finger tips.’
25. In May 2006, Fianna Fail Junior Minister Conor Lenihan heckled Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins during a Dail debate. Higgins had been campaigning on behalf of immigrant Turkish construction workers, and Lenihan said that Higgins ‘should stick with the kebabs’.
26. In December 2005, Fianna Fail Junior Minister Ivor Callely resigned when it emerged that a top construction company had painted his house free of charge, while the company was also doing work for the Eastern Health Board of which Callely was chairperson.
27. In November 2005, with gangland crime all over the newspapers, Fianna Fail Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea posed for photographers smiling as he pointed a pistol directly into the camera.
28. In April 2005, former Fianna Fail Junior Minister for Transport, Jim McDaid, who had led an anti-drink-driving campaign, was arrested after drunkenly driving his car the wrong way up a busy dual carriageway.
29. In January 2005, former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Ray Burke was jailed for six months for making false tax declarations, breaking a law that he himself had helped to pass. He served four and a half months in Arbour Hill prison.
30. In May 2004, Fianna Fail expelled Mayo TD Beverly Flynn from the Party. Bertie Ahern said the integrity of the party depended on her expulsion, that Fianna Fail was at a crossroads, and that the party would also have to deal with any other members who transgressed ethics and standards in public life.
31. In September 2003, Fianna Fail TD Michael Collins resigned from the Parliamentary Party after making a €130,000 tax settlement arising from a bogus non-resident bank account.
32. In September 2003, Fianna Fail TD GV Wright knocked down a nurse while driving under the influence of alcohol. The nurse’s leg was broken in four places.
33. In December 2002, former Fianna Fail Government Press Secretary Frank Dunlop told the Flood Tribunal that former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor (who he also knew as ‘Mr Big’) was the first person to tell him that money would have to be paid to councillors in return for their votes.
34. In November 2002, former Fianna Fail Government press Secretary Frank Dunlop named six Fianna Fail councilors who he bribed to secure the rezoning of land at Carrickmines in south Dublin.
35. In September 2002, the Flood Tribunal found that former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Ray Burke received corrupt payments, including £125,000 from property developers and £30,000 from the owners of Century Radio.
36. In September 2002, the Flood Tribunal found that former Fianna Fail Government Press Secretary PJ Mara had failed to co-operate with the Tribunal, by failing to provide details of an overseas account. In the 1980s, in a Hot Press interview, Mara said that his greatest ambition was ‘never to be found out’.
37. In May 2002, former Fianna Fail Government press Secretary Frank Dunlop said that he paid at least £160,000 to 25 councillors in relation to the redrafting of the Dublin County Council development plan from 1991 to 1993.
38. In February 2002, former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor was jailed for a third time for contempt of court when he refused to comply with orders of the Flood Tribunal. When the Dail called for his resignation, he was brought to Leinster House in a prison van to speak against the motion. Lawlor had previously chaired the Dail Ethics Committee.
39. In January 2002, former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor was jailed for a second time for contempt of court when he refused to comply with orders of the Flood Tribunal.
40. In December 2001, Fianna Fail TD Ned O’Keefe resigned as a Junior Minister. He had voted on a bill about feeding bonemeal to animals, forgetting to inform the Dail that his family was involved in manufacturing the substance.
41. In October 2001, Fianna Fail Junior Minister Joe Jacob, who was responsible for the Government’s emergency response to nuclear accidents at Sellafield, gave a comical interview on RTE radio that resulted in the Government having to send iodine tablets to every house in the country.
42. In April 2001, Fianna Fail TD Beverly Flynn resigned from the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee. She had lost a libel case that she had taken against RTE, who had correctly reported that she had sold banking products designed to assist tax evaders. After losing the case, she faced a €2million legal bill.
43. In January 2001, former Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor was jailed for contempt of court when he refused to comply with orders of the Flood Tribunal.
44. In June 2000, Fianna Fail TD Liam Lawlor resigned from the Parliamentary Party after he misled an internal party investigation about a donation that he had got. Lawlor was also chair of the Oireachtas Joint Ethics committee.
45. In May 2000, Fianna Fail Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy nominated Hugh O’Flaherty to a £147,000 job as Vice President of the European Investment Bank. O’Flaherty was a former High Court judge who had been forced to resign after a scandal the previous year.
46. In February 2000, Fianna Fail TD Denis Foley resigned from the Parliamentary Party. He had £100,000 in an illegal offshore account. He said that he knew that his account might have been an Ansbacher one, but he had been ‘hoping against hope’ that it was not.
47. In November 1999, Fianna Fail TD John Ellis resigned as chairperson of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee. He owed money to farmers, he had £250,000 in debts written off by NIB, and Charles Haughey had given him £26,000 of taxpayers cash to settle other debts.
48. In January 1999, former Fianna Fail Minister Padraig Flynn appeared on the Late Late Show on RTE. Now a European Commissioner, Flynn complained about the difficulties of living on ‘just £100,000 a year’ when he had three houses, housekeepers and various cars to maintain. ‘You should try it,’ he added.
49. In June 1995, Celia Larkin lodged £11,743.34 into Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern’s bank account. Ahern says that £10,000 sterling of this was actually his own money, part of £50,000 that he had earlier withdrawn from his own account and used to buy £30,000 sterling. However, the bank has no record of selling £30,000 sterling to anybody during that period.
50. In December 1994, Celia Larkin lodged IR£28,772.90 into Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern’s bank account. Ahern says that this was £30,000 sterling cash given to him in a briefcase by his soon-to-be landlord, just after he had become Fianna Fail leader and was expected to become Taoiseach However, the amount equates exactly to $45,000 based on bank exchange rates on that date.