MEET the old boss, same as the new boss. That’s lazy isn’t it, throwing around clichés like their wisdom but sadly, it’s true. Clichés are the best way to explain Irish politics.
We might have been forgiven for thinking that the nadir for Irish politics, and this is a pretty stiff competition remember, was reached when Bertie Ahern conducted his infamous interview with Bryan Dobson on the RTÉ news.
It was at the height of Bertie’s troubles with the Mahon Tribunal and a tearful Bertie was making rambling excuses for all of the strange money that had flowed into his lack of bank accounts.
Amongst the gems Bertie imparted that evening was the assertion that nobody was appointed to State bodies for monetary gain or to curry influence.
They were appointed because they were his friends.
That Bertie Ahern, the then serving Taoiseach of the country, thought that statement was a way of clearing his name shows how low politics in Ireland had sunk.
Bertie Ahern thought asserting that people were appointed to influential State bodies because they were his friends and for no other reason showed that he was an honest man.
He thought if he proved there was no monetary gain involved and that he was merely promoting his friends that Irish society would say, ah, fair dues, he’s just looking after the boys.
Bertie Ahern didn’t see that giving people jobs, profitable, high profile, powerful jobs simply on the basis that they were your mates itself shows just how far politics in Ireland had sunk.
Bertie was so far from thinking there was anything wrong with that that he boasted about it live on the main news programme on the main television channel. But that was then, wasn’t it, and this is now.
The old crowd were thrown out and the new crowd came in and politics was going to be different and a clean sweep was going to be made of a country that had been run in to the ground by the old way of doing things.
Except. Oh, well, except, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. For in a few short days it has been revealed that Fine Gael and Labour have been appointing people to positions of authority for reasons that, well, for reasons that Bertie would have well understood.
Ah, yeh, he’ll be nodding, they’re just looking after the boys.
So the minor and somewhat bizarre appointment of a Fine Gael Senate candidate to the board of the Irish Museum of Modern Art in order to promote his candidacy has unravelled a way of doing things that seems very, very familiar.
Not only does it seem that the said candidate had previously exhibited no apparent interest in art, it seems that the Senate seat he was after covered Culture so someone joined the dots and, hey presto.
Hot on the heels of that it has been revealed that the Minister of State at the Environment appointed a Fine Gael councillor who had lost his council seat to the board of Irish Water — a company the Minister’s department oversees — where the councillor would be earning €15,000 a year for attending a few meetings. And not only that he then employed him as his personal driver at a pay of €665 a week.
When confronted with this the failed councillor said ‘you tell me one party out there who doesn’t look after their own. It’s politics.’
Not only do these Fine Gaelers see nothing wrong with it, they are boasting about it. So when we found out that the lucky Senate candidate who’d been appointed and then bizarrely resigned from the board of IMMA was a man with close family ties to Enda Kenny, that the Taoiseach’s family had canvassed for him when he’d failed to win a council seat, we knew where we were.
Here were individuals who had failed to be elected by the will of the people, who hadn’t passed the democratic test but who were being appointed and looked after because of who they knew.
Because they were friends of the right people and the right person doesn’t get much more right than the Taoiseach.
All we have had from the new boss in response is an apology that leaves us unsure as to what the apology is for.
Enda has gone as far as saying this ‘was not his finest hour’ but in the general scheme of things, as an insight in to how political business is conducted, Enda Kenny is showing a surprising affinity with Mr Bertie Ahern.
Meet the old boss, same as the new boss. Lazy, yes. But true.