In the uproar that followed McDowell’s manoeuvre, a noble work by one of the most valuable men to ever visit Ireland, Chuck Feeny, was destroyed. This was the public enquiry institute of which Connolly was the chief journalist and distinguished figures like Mr Justice Fergus Flood, the chairman. At the time, Bertie Ahern said on television that no country, not America, not France, could stand for such an outside agency supplying information to its public.
Ahern conveniently overlooked the activities of Sky Television, CNN, The BBC and the Murdoch press when he said this but on losing office, he subsequently took a job with the scummiest publication in the English language, The News of the World, which Murdoch was forced to shut down and the Irish public never read the results of the story that Connolly and his team had been working on - an investigation of Ahern’s finances.
Given this background and the traditional Irish deference to the authority of both Christ and Caesar it is not surprising that the professionals have managed to keep the rich and the venial from appearing before the bar of justice.
But given the disturbed, near mutinous state of Irish public opinion, it is not unreasonable to speculate that unless the state acts to prosecute those responsible for the wheelchairs outside the Dáil the willingness of the Irish taxpayer to submit meekly to the horrors predicted for the next budget and those yet to come may be soon coming to an end.
I certainly hope so.
Tim Pat Coogan’s latest book on the Famine, in which he accuses the English of Genocide will be published by Palgrave Press in November