This appears in Chicago’s ‘Irish American News’ for December, 2015. And if you saw Councillor McElvaney in action then you can now be under no illusions as to what they think about you or the contempt in which they hold you. In fact, if you only needed ONE reason to hate him (and he offered so many) then it’s all that bling he wears. ‘Disgusting’ doesn’t even begin to cover it.
It should have been riveting television, and it was; but it was also depressing viewing on so many levels.
It should have felt like vindication for things that I’ve been hammering on about for decades, and it was; but there was also that empty feeling that you get when you suspect that it will change nothing — absolutely nothing — in this hideously and disproportionately corrupt little country of ours.
It should have called for the setting-up at the very least of an agency to deal with political corruption; and indeed those calls were already being sent out there by Catherine Murphy TD. But wait a minute… dealing with political corruption? In Ireland? Hold on there, where would you start and what slugs would crawl out from the rocks that might be turned over?
Don’t worry, bent councillors, TDs and Senators, you can continue to breathe easy: Fine Gael and Labour were quick to knock that nonsense into touch.
I am of course talking about the unedifying and yet unsurprising sight of one of our leading chancers, the egregious Fine Gael Monaghan man Hugh McElvaney, who was filmed and taped during an RTÉ Investigations Unit report in which he openly asked an undercover reporter, who was posing as a potential investor, to get herself ready to hand over some talking-care-of-me loot.
“Ten grand would be a start,” said the bould McElvaney. Oh, yeah; and don’t forget to make it in ‘lovely sterling’.
That was on the phone. When they met up in person, he opened the proceedings with: “I have a question for you, Nina. What’s in it for me?”
“What’s in it for me?”
Bizarrely – and to what must surely have been the reporter’s delight – he even began MIMING the lining of his pockets. It really had to be seen to be believed.
I hadn’t realised that I had been waiting all these years to hear one single, simple phrase that would sum up in five short and sublime little words the mindset of the average Irish politician – and there it had been hiding behind McElvaney’s lips the whole time.
And I wonder how often he has uttered them, this wealthy and successful man, over his 42-years in the game:
“What’s in it for me?”
Not a thought for his constituency, this nine-times-elected local councilor and four-times Mayor of Monaghan. Not a thought as to what it might do for anyone except himself; at least not unless it was very much a fourth- and even fifth-come thought. No; right out of the starting gate he was making his greed, venality and corruption as clear as he possibly could:
“What’s in it for me?”
I’ve had little time for the biased reporting of RTE over the years. This certainly came to a head over the last fourteen or so months, due to their blatant twisting and even ignoring of the facts during the anti-water charge protests. There were times there where all semblance of objectivity seemed to go out the window in favour of reports that appeared to have been handed to them by the liar and fantasist Enda Kenny’s government spin doctors.
This time, though, it is nice to compliment RTE for a change. Perhaps the likes of cynical creatures such as me won’t have been overly surprised; but if even a handful of decent voters in Monaghan look twice at the obscene grasper that they have sitting on their council then the State Broadcaster might actually have done that State some service.
Of course, there were others who didn’t emerge from the report looking the best, but I’m staying with McElvaney simply because he IS so perfectly out of the Central Casting from some episode of ‘Father Ted’ which would be thrown out as being too far-fetched. Because, far from resigning on the spot, McElvaney showed utter incredulity and complete bewilderment that it could even be thought in the slightest bit likely that he would resign. After all, according to him, he had been aware of the filming and taping all the time!
Sure, wasn’t he wise to RTE and only stringing them along for the craic and to show them up? You didn’t think he was that much of an eejit, did you?
And actually, I don’t think that Councillor McElvaney is an eejit at all. Far from it. I think that he has been simply getting away with taking bribes for so much of his 42-year career that he merely got lazy about checking the credentials of the fake investor. In fact, he had been a Fine Gael stalwart through and through at the time of the filming. It seems likely that it was only when he got wind of the RTE sting that he made his very dramatic, very public show of resigning from the party over that old warhorse, the Matter of Principle – this time over the erection of some pylons. He got a standing ovation for being a decent man who was doing the right thing. Of course he did. What else would you expect in our open-air madhouse?
McElvaney, though, insists that he knew what those wide boys in Dublin were trying to put over on him. “I lured her [‘Nina’] into my trap”, he says. Now there’s an image I’m not going to get out of my head for a long time: a big loudmouthed blowhard like this fella luring any woman into his trap. Ah, stop it! But he gets worse:
“It was a piss-pull. It was what we call ‘taking the piss’ out of RTE and I proved it.”
He proved it? It’s no wonder I’m confused. As excuses go this one is likely to give Bertie Ahern’s ‘I won all that loot on the horses’ a gallop for the money.
“Are you going to pay me by the hour or by the job?” said Hugh as he led ‘Nina’ into his trap. Some trap, all right.
So: it was great stuff; but, as I also said, it was down heartening. And one of the reasons for that is I would not be at all surprised to hear that he was still a councillor this time next year – or even in five years’ time. There just seems to be no will here to do a damned thing about the corruption that is destroying the heart and soul of this country.
Even with the fact that FG told us blatant lies prior to the last election and makes no bones ABOUT the fact that they lied, it’s not impossible that we’ll see them in again. There is an apathy here that is stultifying. And yet when young (or older!) people tell me that they have no intention of voting ‘because they’re all rotten’ it is hard to argue with them. Especially when I’ve come close to pretty much believing that depressing notion myself.
However, I’ll leave the last world to (still) Councillor Hugh McElvaney. And I won’t make them: “What’s in it for me?”
No, we’ll go with this utterance from him during a radio interview this week:
“Somebody somewhere thought that it was time to get McElvaney off the pitch.”
Good Lord; he talks about himself in the third person. Do we really need any more reasons not to trust this guy?