Huge lessons from Mahon, but there must be a better way – Harris
Posted March 23rd, 2012 in Justice, Public Expenditure & Reform
Publication of Mahon Report after 15-year investigation exposes widespread deceit and corruption, but there must be a better way to ensure justice is done.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has called for a re-examination of the Tribunal system following the long-awaited publication of the Mahon Tribunal findings. Deputy Harris said, “Whilst it will take time to absorb all the findings and details, it does seem incredible that after a lengthy, costly and extensive Tribunal, we, the people of Ireland and the Irish taxpayers, are told that evidence surrounding attaching the label of “corruption” to certain individuals in “inconclusive”. This is not a criticism of the judges involved in this Tribunal or their extensive efforts but rather it is an absolute indictment of the process which was put in place to unravel this murky world of leading politicians and influential developers.
“There has to be a better way of establishing facts and truth and bringing those who do wrong to account. We still have a situation whereby people who have been found to have received corrupt payments from developers have not faced justice. A man who disguised garlic as apples and avoided paying the full tax liability is in prison for 6 years – yet those who accepted large donations in return for political favours remain free and have not faced punishment.
“It is crazy that a process was put in place which effectively allowed the day of reckoning and judgement on fact to be deferred for many of Ireland’s most powerful politicians for a decade and a half. And, of course, all the time, we the taxpayer, are left with an ever-growing bill.
“We need to establish a much better system of inquiring into allegations of wrong doing but that alone is not enough. Those who do wrong or accused of doing wrong should not just have to deal with a tribunal or an inquiry – they should face the full rigours of the laws and if those laws need to be beefed up, that must be done now.
“The Tribunal reports that the developer Owen O’Callaghan “found it necessary” to engage in providing corrupt payments in order to successfully develop property in Dublin. That stark finding in itself paints a very clear picture of the absolute abuse of power and trust which the Irish people experienced from some politicians.
“The findings about Bertie Ahern will take more time to digest but effectively we have been told we had a Taoiseach who told “untruths” – a nice way of saying lies – to a Tribunal of Inquiry which his own Government established. His refusal to tell the truth seems to have prevented the Tribunal from obtaining the full picture on a number of issues he was accused of engaging in.
“Perhaps most worryingly, is the finding by the Tribunal that the Government of the day engaged in efforts to undermine and attack the Tribunal with a view to having it closed down. As the net tightened on the culture of abusing power, it seems that those in power desperately did all they could to suppress any chance of the truth emerging.
“This culture of abusing power did not just exist in politics – it extended and leaked into other areas – most notably banking. We are all paying the price for it now and a disgusting price for a Tribunal which only confirmed what we knew and which saw its work interfered with by the refusal of Bertie Ahern to even tell the truth.
“The Government will be referring the report to the Garda Commissioner, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Revenue Commissioners and the Standards in Public Office Commission, who I hope will take swift action to ensure justice is done.