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A twin-pronged dig at Ahern by PD and Green Party Ministers which signifies… what? March 27, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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Difficult to be certain what to make of the statements today which see both party political components of the Coalition delivering essentially the same message to Bertie Ahern.

Mary Harney of the Progressive Democrats was first out calling:

… on Mr Ahern to break his silence over Ms Carruth’s testimony regarding sterling lodgments to the Taoiseach’s Irish Permanent account in 1994.

Speaking to reporters in Dublin this morning, the former Progressive Democrats leader said the Taoiseach was the only person who could dispel public rumours following Ms Carruth’s evidence. “What I am saying is that the public disquiet has to be dispelled, and that is a matter for the Taoiseach, and only the Taoiseach can dispel that public disquiet”, she said.

She wasn’t saying she would walk… indeed she was being very careful to say nothing too scarifying at all…

“I am not being specific as to what the Taoiseach should actually do. That is a matter for the Taoiseach.” “I am simply saying there is considerable public disquiet as a result of Gráinne Carruth’s evidence last week, and that public disquiet needs to be dispelled quickly,” Ms Harney said.

Indeed she was at pains to state…

…she still had confidence in the Taoiseach.

I love this political dance which necessitates an extreme sensitivity in political language and gesture. Disquiet must be balanced by ‘confidence’. Only the Taoiseach can ‘dispel’ ‘unease’. It has all the mannered refinement of “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Delicacy in word. Reserve. Emphatic statements softened by something approaching diffidence. Or to put it another way, they reach forward but they refrain from striking.

John Gormley of the Greens was no more assertive.

In an address to county councillors in Co Meath today, Green Party leader Mr Gormley said it was clear that evidence given by the Mr Ahern’s former secretary Gráinne Carruth gave rise to serious issues which need to be clarified.

And from him the following masterfully understated sentence:

“There is evidence of growing public interest in this issue, and there are concerns.”

Indeed.

His suggestion?

More information from the Taoiseach would help here

Why yes. Yes it would!
But here’s the rub. He continues with:

We have always insisted – including during two key Dáil debates – on full Government support for the tribunal’s work. As I have said on numerous occasions, the issue is a distraction from the business of good government.

And how can he say otherwise. There is a process, but the process itself is subject to centrifugal forces that spin information out almost at random in a manner which actually subverts the process, and yet also gives a, perhaps, far too clear picture of a situation that causes… well… ‘public interest’… and in such a way as to make the political terrain – for Ahern at least – incredibly unstable. As it happens I agree with Gormley. I think it’s astute of him to introduce the idea that there is a distinction between Ahern’s position and ‘good government’. That may well become crucial for the continued participation of the Green Party in government in the mid-term. And I salute him for the skillful turn of the following phrase…

This is – as it has always been – primarily an issue for Mr Ahern, his lawyers, and the Mahon tribunal. It is also a matter for Fianna Fáil.

I think, on the evidence of this that there is no immediate danger to the Coalition. But… the rhetorical pressure is being ratcheted up. I’m guessing that Ahern at his next meeting with the Tribunal is going to have to pull some serious chestnuts out of the fire or else we’ll see yet further pressure again. And all the while… to paraphrase John Gormley in that last sentence, where is Fianna Fáil?

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Comments»

1. Conor McCabe - March 27, 2008

The hypocrisy from Gormley is outstanding. His party dropped all mentions of planning and land reform in order to get into government. Furthermore they are standing by while the same vested interests who have made billions in construction are ploughing through Tara ‘cos they’ve already bought enough of the land either side of the motorway for future “development” – never mind the billions in compensation that’s been paid to landowners in order to get these sloppy roads through.

The Mahon tribunal is getting achingly-close to the links between Bertie Ahern and builders and planners – and Gormley believes that somehow the mounting evidence of weasel practises is a distraction from good government?

does he believe that we would have “good government” if we did not know about the financial backers of Bertie Ahern? – That somehow those vested interests would not be able to affect national economic, housing,and our general development policy anymore if only they stayed in the dark?

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2. WorldbyStorm - March 27, 2008

That’s certainly true on one level. How though it impacts on the day to day level is a more open question.

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3. Conor McCabe - March 28, 2008

Well, if all you can affect is the micro-level of day to day decisions, you’re only codding yourself in thinking that you’re in government anyway. The Greens are a bit like Homer Simpson when he got more tartar sauce for his workmates. They seem to be obsessed with those day to day decisions that silly things like the ongoing investigation into wholesale corruption in Irish life just complicate beyond endurance.

Of course, now we have Gormley going that there seems to be a bit of public interest in this tribunal thingy, so, you know, maybe Bertie should say something to clear it all up.

I mean, does he really believe that last week’s revelations at the tribunal are of such a modest nature that a simple statement from Bertie can clear them all up?

You can see why Gormley’s in charge of ordering the tartar sauce alright.

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4. Dec - March 28, 2008

Interesting day. In one way this indicates the begining of the end. Ahern is now being called to account by both his junior partners in govt. In all probabality he is unable to provide the clarity needed to satisfy their “requests” and they started a process of which the media will egg them on to complete to its logical conculsion, ie resignation of Ahern.

It will be revealing whether any higher profile FF people over the next week will use the “unease” of the coalition partners to suggest that Ahern sets a date.

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5. Garibaldy - March 28, 2008

This may be the beginning of the end. But I wouldn’t bet on him going any time soon.

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6. WorldbyStorm - March 28, 2008

I’d tend to agree. But… it has to be as Dec says that this is a crucial shift. I’m sort of looking forward to what the IT editorial says tomorrow…

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7. Garibaldy - March 28, 2008

I think FF probably learnt its lesson from the Brendan Smyth thing. It won’t be pushed around by a junior partner. And I suspect the junior partners are well aware of the dangers of an election to their positions in government. Which their actions have shown them to be salvering after

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8. soubresauts - March 28, 2008

You can see the Greens chickening out now, but I think the PDs will up the ante — they have less to lose. I’d say Harney is close to letting her cabinet position go, and at the same time gaining honour for herself and the PDs. I’m not sure if that will force Bertie out sooner rather than later.

If Bertie address the Houses of Congress it’ll be embarrassing… in general, slightly more embarrassing than if he doesn’t address the Houses of Congress.

Gormley & co are able to sustain a very high embarrassment threshold. They’re trying to pretend that embarrassment means nothing in the face of global warming.

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9. ejh - March 28, 2008

I trust if Ahern falls that Michael McDowell will not be returning to politics as the Saviour Of An Ungrateful Nation?

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