25 October 2007 Edition
Brutal memory recovery
WHEN John ‘Brutal’ Bruton was Fine Gael Taoiseach (1994-1997), he was big on lecturing everyone about integrity in politics. Then a well-known property developers’ bag man – sorry, lobbyist – whose job was buying politicians’ votes with bribes, told him that one of his party’s county councillors was looking for a huge back-hander – £250,000. A quarter of a million is serious money now; even more serious money 14 years ago.
One of his councillors had his hand out for quarter of a million quid to vote a certain way on a planning matter. So what did ‘Honest John’ Bruton do? He didn’t blink an eye. Or if he did, that’s all he did.
Bruton was questioned by counsel at the Mahon Tribunal into planning corruption at Dublin Castle last Thursday (18 October) about a conversation he had with the bag man, former Fianna Fáil Press Secretary Frank Dunlop, who was greasing politicians’ palms for property speculators. Dunlop had complained that the late Fine Gael Councillor, Tom Hand, had asked for a quarter of a million punts in return for backing the Quarryvale development in west Dublin. It wasn’t giving a bribe that was bothering Dunlop; it was the size of the bribe Hand was asking for.
Bruton said that Dunlop’s testimony had “prompted recollections” in his memory that he “previously didn’t have access to”!!!
What had Honest John Bruton done with them that he couldn’t “have access to” these “recollections”? Had he put them on a high shelf that he needed a ladder to get to them? Maybe he’d left them tucked inside a copy of Maurice Manning’s The Blueshirts, under a big pile of Michael Lowry election posters. Were they locked away in Bruton’s billion-dollar brain?
John Bruton did confess eventually, though, to being told about the allegation of corruption by one of his political representatives when Dunlop spoke to him at a Fine Gael fund-raiser at the Red Cow Inn in May 1993.
So he must have phoned the Garda Fraud Squad straightway then? Er, no. Well, he must have told his leadership team or his coalition partners, Labour and Democratic Left? Apparently not. So he must have at least hauled Tom Hand in to ask him was this very serious allegation true, or was it case for suing Dunlop for defamation? No. The leader of the most senior Irish Government party – the very same one that is hounding Bertie Ahern about his curious financial arrangements – did absolutely nothing.
“I thought about the issue for a little while,” Bruton pleaded to the tribunal, “but I couldn’t quite see exactly what I could do about it.”
John Bruton is now the EU ambassador to the United States. If the ambassador of anywhere else (outside of Zimbabwe) had made a public confession to a tribunal established by parliament that he’d turned a blind eye to political corruption, their bosses would be reviewing their suitability for the job.
WHEN allegations first surfaced in the media in 2000 about Fine Gael councillors on the take, Bruton denied point-blank that he’d heard anything about it.
In a written statement to the tribunal three years later, Bruton started recalling bits of the chat with Frank Dunlop but it was nothing serious or he would have done something about it, wouldn’t he?
At the Mahon Tribunal last week, his Blueshirt collar feeling decidedly uncomfortable under the inquisitorial gaze of Patricia Dillon SC, Bruton broke, sort of:
“It gradually came back to me that Mr Dunlop had said something to me that was not inconsequential.”
‘Not inconsequential’ is a squirming politician’s way of saying it was something serious.
Dunlop claimed that Bruton had said:
“There are no angels in the world or in Fine Gael.”
Did Bruton really say that? He said he could have.
“I gradually came to the conclusion that the phrase, ‘There are no angels in the world,’ was a phrase that I could actually have used.”
But why would he have used such a phrase if Dunlop hadn’t mentioned corruption? And is this an appropriate response from not just the leader of Fine Gael but the Taoiseach of the day?
I hope there’s an ethics committee somewhere in the EU re-examining the diplomatic credentials of their man in the Big Apple.
Give it up for the nation
“WOMEN have to be beautiful in appearance,” according to the Supreme Leader. No, not Gerry Adams – the Supreme Leader of the People’s Republic of North Korea, Kim Jong-il.
Comrade Kim adds, though: “But it’s not the whole of true beauty.” Oh, no. Brace yourselves, girls.
“It is the women who can give up their youth, love and family for the fatherland and the nation... those who can put the mass and their comrades before themselves for the happiness of the people and the prosperity of the nation that are true beauties.”
Try putting that in a lonely hearts ad in the Andytown News.
MEDIA reports of Comrade Kim’s wise words about women claim that North Korea’s official media likes to call Korean women “the flowers of the peninsula who honour their country by marrying wounded soldiers and are able to fight off 100 invaders while achieving breakthroughs in science”.
And I thought that was just women in the IRA and Sinn Féin. (Crawler – Ed.)
THE world’s “first registered political party dedicated to sex-positive issues”, the Sex Party in Canada, is suing the postal service in the Land of the Lumberjack for discriminating against it by refusing to handle its mail-shot for a federal election.
That’s election with an ‘l’.
LIKE Sinn Féin, the Sex Party invites people to donate to its website.
But before Sammy Wilson and the boys on the back seat of the bus start tittering, what those sexy things (the ones in Canada, that is) invite supporters to do is send in their “erotic art”.
Bet there’s no shortage of staff there when it comes to opening the post.