Pat Flanagan column: Hat-trick of scandals prove the law still doesn’t apply to Fianna Fail
‘So why should the public adhere to rules and laws when Fianna Fail politicians can flout them without consequences? Because that’s what Fianna Fail does’
Barry Cowen says that he has apologised to his family, to the Taoiseach, to his constituents, and to the general public
Three apologies and three impending scandals in as many days – welcome back Fianna Fail, you haven’t lost it.
Charlie Haughey’s old party is a bit like Dublin buses – you’re waiting for a scandal for ages then three come along at the same time.
Still, you have to hand it to Micheal Martin who is not quite two weeks in office and yet his Government has been rocked by controversy.
And it comes in the same week a survey by the Central Statistics Office found that less than half of the people in this country have confidence in the justice system. Read on and you might see why.
If scandals were goals then the one scored by Barry Cowen was the most spectacular of the Fianna Fail hat-trick.
The new Agriculture Minister was caught drink-driving and received a three-month ban but it has since emerged he didn’t have a licence to lose, at least not a full one. He was also done for speeding.
Minister Cowen still hasn’t explained how he reached 49 years of age without ever holding a full driving licence or how he was on the road when the law clearly states that learners must be accompanied by a full licence holder. Did he have L plates on his car when he was driving up and down to the Dail and was he claiming huge travelling expenses for doing so?
He says he made a “stupid, stupid mistake” but it would appear he did it every time he got into his car over many years. Why should young men and woman learners be prosecuted and get points on their licence when this prominent politician apparently drove around for years and did not?
While the Government would have us believe “we are all in this together” when it comes to the pandemic, that’s not the case in the Fianna Fail parliamentary party.
in a fraught coalition with Fine Gael and the excitable Greens.
As for the bould Barry, unless he comes up with some plausible explanations about his past driving it could, and should, be the end of the road for him.
Another Fianna Fail TD with “deep regrets” is Joe O’Flaherty who only went and wrote a letter to a court on behalf of three brothers whose homes were this week raided by the Criminal Assets Bureau as part of a major investigation.
The Longford-Westmeath deputy said penning the letter on behalf of the men during a violent disorder trial was an “error of judgment” which is something of an understatement. In it he described Thomas, 40, Denis, 39, and 35-year-old Willie Hannafin as “extremely capable, very sharp and more than familiar with hard work”, during a trial in Longford Circuit Court.
The three brothers were given suspended sentences for an attack which resulted in an 18-year-old receiving a knife wound. An axe was also used in the assault.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, last Monday the homes of all three men were among a dozen residential properties raided by CAB which seized €110,000 and £14,000 (€15,570) in cash.
Also confiscated were three caravans and 11 high-end vehicles, including a Mercedes, as well as two Rolex watches and designer handbags and shoes.
The brothers had been in court for the attack which is believed to have been part of the Longford feud which has resulted in numerous violent incidents including shootings, arson attacks, assaults and death threats.
Yet Deputy O’Flaherty gave the three what amounted to character references on his personalised headed note paper and listed his Dail address.
Meanwhile, MEP Billy Kelleher proved once again that when it comes to rules and regulations they don’t always apply to Fianna Fail.
He flew to Dublin from Brussels, totally disregarding public health advice for people arriving into Ireland, ignoring the order to self-isolate for 14 days.
He deemed it more important to be there to see Micheal Martin crowned Taoiseach the following day at the National Convention Centre in Dublin rather than stay at home in case he might spread the virus.
So why should the public adhere to rules and laws when Fianna Fail politicians can flout them without consequences? Because that’s what Fianna Fail does.
Indeed many people consider it a scandal in itself that Fianna Fail are back in office when the public overwhelmingly voted for change.