- It is all the more disappointing then, that so little was learned, when problems came to light again under Mr Ahern.
- The report of the Tribunal refers to the standard of proof that it applies, which is a civil standard. Its findings are based on a balance of probability. Other bodies, including the Revenue Commissioners and the Gardai, have their own well established standards and procedures, which they will now apply.
- The Criminal Assets Bureau, has a particular role to play, since the legislation governing CAB requires those being investigated to demonstrate that the source of their income is legitimate, not the other way around.
- But there is also a political standard of proof. A higher standard. A standard that Fianna Fáil consistently failed to apply, both when Ministers attacked the Tribunal itself, and when they continued to support Mr Ahern as Taoiseach.
- The evidence that Mr Ahern gave to the Tribunal was manifestly inadequate. It was manifestly clear that he was unable to account for substantial amounts of money that he received. His explanations were little short of bizarre. That was obvious to anyone who read or listened to his evidence. There was a widespread view in the country at that time that his evidence was not believable – something which the Tribunal has now confirmed.
- It was clear for anyone to see that he was not co-operating with a sworn inquiry established by the Oireachtas. It was also clear, or should have been clear, that this placed him in an impossible position as Taoiseach. In that situation, others around Mr Ahern had a duty to act, to uphold the political standard of which I spoke.
- In fact, their reaction was not to deal with the problem in front of them, but to attack the Tribunal itself. And as late as yesterday, Mr Ahern continued to attack it, when he knows that the members of the Tribunal cannot debate with him in public.
- At the same time, the Green Party looked the other way. The Green Ministers deliberately chose to ignore what was happening at the Tribunal.
- A Ceann Comharile, I do not blame anyone who sees this report, as another report, on top of another Tribunal, after another inquiry. I do not blame anyone who looks at what has happened in this country over the past five years, and who simply remarks that no-one, banker, developer or politician has gone to jail. I don’t blame anyone who is utterly frustrated by the slow pace at which investigations into the banking collapse have been proceeding. I share that frustration.
- As elected representatives it is right, that we distance ourselves from the administration of justice – that the law is, and is seen to be, impartial.
- But is also surely right that as public representatives we can express the frustration of the public that justice is delayed, and so much justice is denied.
- For the past twelve months, this Government has been engaged in the task of restoring political, financial and economic stability – of bringing the republic back from the edge of bankruptcy. But there is more than one way to be bankrupt.
- Our republic stands, not just on law and the constitution, but on the trust and confidence that we repose in each other, and in the institutions of the State. That trust has been badly damaged.
- But it is not damaged beyond repair.
- No matter how great the temptation, despair is a luxury we cannot afford. Of those who want to write off politics and political life, I simply ask, what is the alternative?
- There is plenty of evidence in this report of individuals who betrayed the trust that had been placed in them. But there is evidence too, of others, who did everything they could to expose corruption, and who are commended by the Tribunal. The very fact that the Tribunal was set up, is the result of action taken by ordinary citizens acting in the public interest.
- The Government will work its way through the economic crisis. We will examine the recommendations of the Tribunal, and bring forward proposals for reform. We will involve the people directly in the work of a Constitutional Convention, which will look at how the political system can be reformed, and the republic can be renewed. We will bring forward laws to make it harder for this to happen again. Laws which would never have been enacted in a previous era.
- The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government has already sent the Report to the DPP and to the Garda Commissioner, as well as to the Chairs of the Revenue Commissioners and the Standards in Public Office Commission for their consideration and for whatever further investigative steps are considered appropriate. The Garda Commissioner has since referred the Report to the Criminal Assets Bureau and has asked the Bureau’s Head to lead the Garda examination of the Report and any follow-up action.
- s the Tribunal has itself noted, it is estimated that CAB and Revenue have, between them, have already recovered over IR£51m as a result of the work of the Tribunal.
- At its meeting today, the Government decided that all relevant Ministers should consider urgently the Tribunal’s recommendations and revert to the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government as the co-ordinating Department by the end of April at the latest with proposed actions in response. Minister Hogan will report back to Government on our collective response to the Tribunal’s recommendations as early as possible in May.
- Some of these recommendations are already in the course of implementation, including legislative proposals in relation to political funding, corruption, whistleblowers and the registration of lobbyists.
- In the long history of our people, each generation has been confronted by its own historic challenge. This is ours. To rescue the economy, to restore hope and confidence in our country, and to restore the trust that we should all have in our public institutions. To leave behind us a system of Government – a Republic - that enjoys the respect and allegiance of all our people.
Eamon Gilmore's Dail speech on the Mahon Tribunal
a guest Mar 27th, 2012 91 Never
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