Harney’s hair… Molloy’s non-appearance November 27, 2008Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.
The Harney issue continues to fascinate. Did Mary Harney avail of $410 worth of treatments at a hair and nail salon close to Cape Canaveral on a trip with the worthies in Fás? A trip that saw her…
…[travel] to Orlando, Florida, at the expense of Fás in July 2004 in a party that included the former director general of Fás, Rody Molloy, and his wife, and the then secretary general of Ms Harney’s department, Paul Haran, and his wife.
Not according to her spokesman:
He said Ms Harney had three days of official engagements in Florida and as was her normal practice in her capacity as Minister “she availed of standard wash and blow dries in preparation for her official engagements”.
“The Minister is certain that this does not account for a total of $410. It is simply not the case that the Minister incurred a $410 bill for herself and any such insinuation is totally wrong.
Memory is a funny thing. Her old pal Bertie Ahern can attest to that. The Irish Times would have us believe that:
…persons staying at the Radisson Resort hotel at Cape Canaveral could avail of hair treatment services at the hotel and the bill was accrued in this way. Sources close to Ms Harney last night accepted that services she had received might have contributed to the $410 bill.
It’s admittedly small stuff, but standards depend on principles. And those who have been most vociferous in their condemnation of others should know better…Then look at the linkages. I’d forgotten that, as the IT notes with fastidious care:
…on the trip were Ms Harney’s husband, the then chairman of Fás, Brian Geoghegan, Ms Harney’s press secretary and her private secretary.
Ooops. L’etat, c’est eux… or somesuch. And the private sector too.
Still whether this makes her position as Minister of Health more precarious than it already is something of a moot point. She’s already on the way out. This may just speed up the process, although appallingly I note in the current Phoenix Annual that Noel Grealish is rumoured to have a deal with FF that he would get a Cabinet position in the next reshuffle. That seems entirely at odds with his latest statements that he will not be joining FF but remaining as an Independent in splendid isolation. On the other hand, should the call to sit at the Cabinet table come, who could blame him for making the transition to FF? Well, many actually.
And the man of the moment? Cometh the hour, exit the man. Rody Molloy, former director general of Fás until this week, did not grace the Public Accounts Committee with his presence. That he was paid from the public purse, and one of those who received a cool €643,000 in expenses over four years for promotion of the agency in the US appears to have troubled him not in the slightest.
Can’t blame Bernard Allen, chairman of the PAC, being a little disappointed…
“I find it incredible that people think they can just ride away into the sunset and leave the investigation into the expenditure of taxpayers money handicapped,” he said.
But we’ve seen this pattern before with Tribunals, etc. What now of Brian Cowen’s encomium yesterday on Molloy when he suggested that:
Mr Molloy did the honourable thing by resigning and that he had been a good public servant.
Here’s the thing though. If it were thought that this might provide what some term an ‘educative moment’ in Irish politics about the public/semi-state sector, and one that would validate the noises being made by the centre-right in this state, well it’s certainly shedding some light on some interesting aspects of our political life. But only in so far as it demonstrates how such bodies are often run as financial support structures for a small group within them and how those who preach a rugged individualism and an economic independence from the state all too often appear to live by entirely different rules.
Now that’s what I call an education.