Article by Enda Craig and James Quigley
A Shattering Discovery
What if you found out that you have been swindled or betrayed by your local and national political representatives? What if you found out that your representatives were not representing you and all that they were doing was feathering their own nest? What if you found out what you thought was democracy was nothing short of a hoodwink?
Well we are informing you now that this is exactly the case. There is and has been, since the foundation of the State, a massive hoodwink of the people. Ok, you are supposedly free to elect someone. However, they don't tell you that this person chosen by you, can manipulate you, lie and promise you the moon and stars and they can do whatever they want for the next five years without anybody having a say.
You are brainwashed into thinking that you live in a democratic country where you have power through the ballot box. Does the richest 20% who own 70% the wealth of Ireland not tell you anything? See Ireland’s Great Wealth Divide, by economist David McWilliams
Do the continuous tribunals throughout our short history not give you a clue? See Public Inquiries in Ireland
Just do a quick trawl through Wikipedia's 'Corruption in Ireland' or take a look at an article by Niall O'Dowd, entitled 'Corrupt Politicians Always Ruled Ireland'. He states “When it comes to corruption in Ireland no one was clean or safe. Not the founder of the state de Valera or the most “honest” politician FitzGerald, or the longest serving taoiseach Ahern. Add in the various golden circles that surrounded most of the Irish political leaders and you have a fair old recipe for corruption and graft on a massive scale.”
Can you see the big question yet?
It's not until it comes to our own back yard that the reality of corruption and the ineffectual response to it, or the question of what power and representation citizens really have, hits home.
Our worst fears have been confirmed by today'sarticle, January 25th, in Donegal Daily 'Councillors told they cannot expel Cllr John O'Donnell from Committees'.
RTE Investigates Corrupt Irish Politicians
On December 7th RTE Investigates Unit aired a program 'Corrupt Irish Politicians'. (click photo). This program blew the lid of what seems to be massive corruption to Irish politics.
Among other details of widespread fraud, it showed three local authority Councillors, John O'Donnell, Ind, Donegal, Joe Queenan, FF, Sligo and Hugh McElvaney, FG, Monaghan, easily solicited by a bogus wind farm company and how they agreed to work on the firms behalf in their respective counties. However, for this service they asked for money.
The content shocked the nation. However, most people were not surprised. This feeling was summed up by Catherine Murphy, Social Democrat TDin Leaders Questions December 8th . She stated in the Dail “ what I saw sickened me, however, it did not surprise me. There is a culture of non compliance and utter lack of effective enforcement.”
The feeling in Donegal was no different to the rest of the country and even the dogs in the street knew corruption goes on all the time, that it is only the tip of the iceberg.
The irony is that it took a national broadcasting service to expose the the corruption and the disregard of politicians for the people and their blasé attitude. As if it was an everyday occurrence, the norm. It took RTE to do what the government should have done, protect the people.
This lack of duty by our politicians, councillors, our representatives begs many questions about our democratic system. Why are they in office and what is their contract of employment?
Still Nothing done
It is now over six weeks since the programme aired and nothing has been done both nationally and locally. Apparently nothing can be done. There is no legislation to deal with it. At local council level it is business as usual and none of the three councillors have resigned their council seats. The only inconsequential result was that both Mr Queenan and McElvaney have distanced themselves from their respective parties. One possible reason for this is to save the party's reputation because of impending elections. There will be no sanctions, no prosecutions, no expulsions from office, no loosing pensions, no loosing salary or perks. And the people who sent them to office have no say in the matter whatsoever.
It is a sorry state of affairs to see a few councillors acting with integrity and not get backed by all councillors. See Donegal Now acticle Councillor Refuses to Work with Cllr John O'Donnell. The system whose duty it is to act on the public's behalf is broken, trust is gone and we have been let down once again. Are our representatives running for the hills, protecting themselves by making excuses, oh well, what can we do, sure there's no legislation?
It is even worse to see Cllr McBrearty removed from the Joint Policing Committee by chairman Gerry McMonagle after asking for the removal of John O'Donnell from the committee in Lifford. DonegalDaily, Janurary 22nd.
Ordinary people do the right thing.
It takes a community groups to show gutless politicians the way. On January 20th a Letterkenny Community Residents Group made the following statement
"We decided at the monthly meeting last night that we will not invite John O'Donnell to attend future meetings with our group” DonegalDaily Jan20
The System is broken – Trust is Gone. But what really is happening
When individuals/candidates apply for a position in a company the following scenario would usually be the norm.
The candidate would apply for a position. They would attend an interview where they would attempt to convince the potential employer/boss that they are the right person for the job. If successful they would be given a contract, outlining what the job's responsibilities and criteria would be. This contract would stipulate terms and condition and what could happen in the event of certain types of unacceptable behaviour or practices.
In extreme cases the employee/candidate could find themselves, at least, being dismissed if found in contravention of employment conditions. It could even result in prosecutions and jail. This could happen anytime from the moment they were employed.
So why in the profession of politics should things be any different? Where has the power/right of the employers, the people, gone? Surely the employees can not be relied to decide for themselves.
BUT THEY ARE.
And you might wonder why there should be any difference in the employer/employee relationship.
Who are the employers of elected representatives? What is their job, their contract, their terms and conditions? There does not appear to be any. Should it not be the case that those who elected the candidate, YOU, that you are the employers? And if the candidate refuses to or does not adhere to the contract, or there is gross misconduct, then we, as employers, should be in a position to remove them.
It is no wonder that politicians behave in such a carefree, couldn't care careless, manner. It is not surprising that they treat their employers and employment with such utter disdain. It's the cart before the horse or the employee dictating to the employer.
Our representative get FIVE years of untouchability. The vast majority of them recognise they have been given carte blanche to grab and take as much as they possibly can get their grubby hands on. There is an accountability deficit here which glaringly demonstrates the weakness in the employer/employee relationship.
Take for example the case of Donegal County Councillor John O'Donnell. It should not be left to his colleagues to decide his punishment/fate for his well documented behaviour. They are simply his fellow workers and more importantly our employees.
They should be acting on our behalf. If they don't know what to do then ask us. Follow the courageous example of the Letterkenny Resident Community Group. The Councillors are not as ineffectual as they make out.
Ok, the system is broken and apparently there is no adequate legislation to deal with the problem. That's hard to believe. At least do what some councillors did, refuse to have anything to do with fraud and corruption.
It can not be left to politicians/employees to monitor, judge and police themselves. It is glaringly obvious that they most of our representatives are unwilling to do anything about it or even to admit to the weakness in the system. We can not trust them. It should be up to their employers, the people, to dismiss their representatives as and when required. This could, for example be 'Recall', practiced in many other countries.
It is the people, that should put in place a system that allows them to immediately recall their public representatives who behave and demonstrate they are no longer fit for purpose.
By making the comparison with ordinary employment protocols, we demonstrate how the ordinary people are being hoodwinked and disenfranchised by a totally cynical system.