A twin-pronged dig at Ahern by PD and Green Party Ministers which signifies… what? March 27, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
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.”
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?