The following article originally appeared in New York’s ‘Irish Examiner USA’ for Tuesday March 5 2013.
Drunken Politicians; And Some Remarks on the Killing of Eugene Moloney
Last month I commented briefly and sourly on that night of shame in which our Europe-whipped, Merkel-whipped, Brussels- whipped toadies rushed through an emergency piece of legislation that would affect the next two generations of Irish citizens. The fact is that it can take literally decades to legislate for something in this country when that something is hard (“ooohhh, difficult one, that; not too many votes to be had there, no matter what stance I take”), such as, off the top of my head, abortion. So our cowardly and contemptible pseudo-leaders did the sensible thing and pushed everything through under cover of darkness, whilst the nation tried to get a good night’s kip. A bit of an Irish Night of the Long Knives, in fact. OK, OK, don’t start: I know how sensitive and politically correct everyone is these days and that was of course completely over the top; but by now you will have gathered that I loathe—absolutely loathe with a passion—Enda Kenny and his sell-out partner-in-back-peddling Eamon Gilmore. And I don’t have much time for the rest of them either.
So: that was the night of the Dail ‘debate’ on the liquidation of the former Anglo Irish Bank as a part of this infamous deal on the promissory notes. Don’t try getting into this one in the pub, folks. You’ll just have the usual bar stool philosophers looking a little glazed eyed and then, since they don’t understand what the Propaganda Channel RTE have just told them—and who can blame them for that?– then deciding that in the long run it’s probably a good thing, because European of the Year Enda has said it is. And Michael Martin has added that he cautioned against being railroaded at that ungodly hour but voted for it anyway. Forgive that bar stool philosopher, for you can’t really hold it against him if he doesn’t know what’s going on. Our politicians make it hard enough to understand what‘s happening even if you’re sober.
And it was talk of drinking that led me, in that last column, to complimenting Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. In general, members of his party were the only ones talking sense and showing a little guts on that shameful night; and in particular Adams was both courageous and correct when he said in a kind of desperation to the Ceann Comhairle:
“Could I honourably suggest that if you want some order from the Government TDs then perhaps you should close the Dail bar? That may be a useful way to get some order here.”
I’ve never been the biggest fan of Adams or his party but I do find myself complimenting them more often than not these days. Disconcerting for me, and that’s for sure; but I will always give credit where it is due. And Adams was quite right to comment, not even that obliquely as a politician normally would, that many of the TDs who were there that night were drunk. And don’t let’s be saying that they were a little rambunctious, that the atmosphere had raised their spirits. Come on, if you watch proceedings in the Dail of an afternoon they’re behaving like overgrown schoolboy idiots even when they are presumably halfway sober. No, let’s call this what it was: some of them were bladdered; they were polluted; they were three sheets into the wind.
They were drunk. At such an important session, they were drunk. Which will tell you a little about how much respect they have for Ireland’s citizens.
For his pains Adams was mocked and ridiculed. But let’s be honest, this is a hard guy who has had worse than a few jeers from drunken apes thrown at him in his time.
In fact, so unperturbed was he by the mockery of louts that two weeks ago, during a debate on the Finance Bill he thought perhaps “the bar be closed or that breathalyser tests be introduced for Teachtai entering the chamber.”
Last week he was asked about his earlier remarks and said:
“There were, in the chamber on the night, members of other parties who were intoxicated and other people knew that as well.”
He added that whilst he felt that most TDs were there to do the job they were elected to that “…I do think it’s an anomaly that you have here a bar, you actually have two bars—in a work place.”
I’ve always wondered about that myself. And these are heavily subsidised bars, paid for by the taxpayer. Drink is sold at a price that has we poor sods standing outside with our Oliver Twist noses pressed against the gates wondering why we put up with it. And to add insult to injury it appears that, despite being heavily subsidised, a lot of our gougers still run up tabs! This shower have never minded telling the peasants to take cuts right, left and centre but when it comes to them dipping into their own pockets it’s a horse of a different colour.
In fact, as welcome as Gerry Adams’s comments are, I think that he is understating things to quite an extent. During the eighties and nineties I worked in the Shelbourne Hotel, just around from the Dail; and, especially in the eighties, I used to marvel at how many decisions must be made by politicians going back to ‘work’ in the late afternoon, functioning but undoubtedly intoxicated.
And don’t think that I’m some sort of goody-two-shoes, out to rain on the parade of pub goers. I enjoy a pint as much as anyone. I haven’t drunk spirits in seven years but that’s only because I would have neither life nor friends if I had continued down that road. These days I’m just as likely to order a coffee as a beer. I like pub life and in the main I like pub talk so I’m not some finger-wagging Puritan. But Adams has put his finger on what should be an obvious fact, yet in this weird country, isn’t: that there is a time and a place for everything. And more than anything else (except maybe sex in public and frightening the horses)) that applies to drinking.
It’s also the utter hypocrisy of our bunch that gets me. How many times have you heard them mouthing out of them about the dangers to the youth in our drink-obsessed society. Well, who do you think our youth learn from? You come out with utterly ludicrous changes in the law that now makes it illegal to buy a bottle of wine to take away after ten in the evening and you say that it’s to stop young people drinking. Jesus wept, you lot really don’t get out of the safety of the Dail Bar too often, do you? Young people will still get drink, by hook or by crook, Number Six. All that you have done is put people out of work, closed several off-licences down and made it a pain in the ass for somebody finishing a late shift who has suddenly decided to watch TV with a beer. That’s all. I really wish that you would just stay sozzled in the Dail Bar, serve your terms until you are booted out, go claim your pensions and keep away from trying to run the country; because the fact is that it does OK when you’re on one of your many long breaks.
Still Awaiting Justice for Eugene Moloney.
I didn’t know the man personally. So I’ll just give you the facts of what happened concerning the killing of journalist Eugene Moloney and try to leave my anger out of it. If you want an excellent account by someone who did know him then try to see Philip Nolan’s piece in the Irish Daily Mail last Tuesday. He is as baffled as anyone else is and gets it across perfectly.
The 55-year-old wasn’t doing a dangerous drug story or anything like that. He was simply walking along a Dublin street when an angry 21-year old man called Gary Burch attacked him from behind. No particular reason, he was just in a bad mood that day. It didn’t have to be Moloney. It could have been you, it could have been anyone. There’s little evidence as to what actually happened after Moloney fell to the ground. Because Burch pleaded guilty to manslaughter, all that we really know is that his victim died. Just another senseless, utterly pointless death in Ireland.
Last Monday Judge Mary Ellen Ring let Burch walk out onto the streets once more as he continues the bail that he has enjoyed since before Christmas. Well, Christmas, it says it all really. Good Christian country like this one, we have to show compassion to those who have done terrible wrongs, eh? We’re all sinners and some such bull.
Look, I’m interested in Justice, not the Law, so I don’t really understand why a violent man like Burch has had his sentence deferred. I have no doubt that Judge Ring is quite correct within the parameters of the Law. But I still don’t get it. And do you know why he has had it deferred? Because he has to finish a FAS course before he can be sentenced! This is where you think that you are having some sort of acid flashback. I mean, how can this make any sense at all? A trainee mechanic has admitted to the manslaughter (and I only use that term because I have to; I would prefer to call it something else) of a man who was walking down the street and minding his own business. And because he’s on a work course he must be given time to finish it? Am I down that bloody rabbit hole again or what?
And it’s not as if this lout turned himself in. As Philip Nolan puts it:
“Ms. Gearty [Burch’s senior counsel] told the court that Burch had no previous convictions. He had been granted bail before Christmas after voluntarily spending time in custody and had abided by the terms.
“But let us remember one thing. He may have confessed yesterday, but at the time of the crime, he fled and did not hand himself over. Instead, he had to be tracked down by gardai with the help of CCTV footage. To me, that puts him on rather a shaky footing to expect much in the way of clemency.”
To me also. Further, a former policeman has pointed out to me that although the terms of bail seem to have been complied with, Bush should in theory at the very least, be considered a danger to others. Yet he is sent out to complete a course and share a classroom. I wouldn’t be sharing a room with him and you can take that to the bank. In fact I’d be pulling that stunt that every second person pulls these day: “What about MY Human Rights?” Then again, I haven’t killed anyone. So who would listen to me?
If the Law can plead that it has acted within its remit on giving this…person bail then it surely cannot deny that it has let his family down very badly indeed. If the person in the street was shocked at Burch being let out in order to finish a damned course then imagine how his family must have felt. Because, hard as it is to credit, they were told nothing about this!
At the weekend the dead man’s brother Sean Moloney said: “Sometimes it feels like we are talking about a few traffic tickets here and not the death of another human being.”
He also added: “I am so annoyed that we missed the chance to hear that man plead guilty. Myself and Eugene’s sister Roisin so wanted to be there in the court to hear him plead. We had vehemently insisted when we were speaking to the Director of Public Prosecutions staff that we wanted to be there for that hearing. We just wanted to hear him say it and watch while he said it. We feel that we have been robbed of that opportunity.”
Nor had they been informed that Burch’s precious bloody work course would put back the sentencing. It really does beggar belief. If it is a toss of the coin between looking after the needs of the bereaved and the needs of the criminal it seems that the latter wins out every time.
Finally, I have said that I spent many years in Dublin before moving westwards a decade or so back. And yes, there were many politicians to dread meeting in a bar. I’ve mentioned before that one of the most ludicrous and pompous of windbags was Pat Rabbitte, now Labour Minister for Communications. As he held forth to his admiring group of sycophants in Doheny and Nesbitt’s bar I think that he always thought that he was bit of a wit. I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed.
Last week he was at a book launch for one of his Labour cronies—which will tell you the kind of people that would have been there—when he thought that it was fierce hilarious altogether to announce that he had “just came from another busy day diminishing the living standards of our people.”
What an ignorant blow-hard! He actually thought that was humorous.
Keep talking, Rabbitte. I know what you are: an overfed lump of puffed-up hot air; but I like it just fine that you insist on letting ‘your people’ know as well.