After a decade and a half of foreplay the one thing the findings of the Mahon tribunal have underlined is that we have all been taken for a ride.
How can any democracy justify squandering millions of euro on the biggest investigation into corruption the state has ever witnessed to tell us all what the dogs the in street have known for years?
Not that it comes as a huge surprise, but the minimum most people were expecting was for former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to be officially tarred and feathered.
However, simply stating Bertie “failed to truthfully account for” a wedge of cash that passed though bank accounts connected with him is hardly the knockout blow to his reputation many were hoping for.
It would be any spin doctor’s daydream to have such unspecific language used against their client. You would think after all the filthy lucre shoveled into the tribunal over the years it could have at least bought a set of teeth. But rather than dishing out a true mauling the best this toothless tiger could muster was a slap on the wrist that more or less accused the former Taoiseach of not playing ball and being a bit of a scallywag.
Indeed, the only thing the Mahon Tribunal has achieved is to confirm for those that may have forgotten that the Banana Republic is alive and well.
While Enda Kenny was doing us all proud earlier this week in the US as he charmed President Barack Obama and told all who would listen that modern, sleek Ireland is bouncing back and very much open for business, the evidence would appear to undermine him.
Yes, Ireland will recover from the recession and most likely, in economic terms at least, bounce back leaner and meaner than ever before, but the undeniable truth is that our country will remain broken.
How can we justify spending so much effort and cash on what has amounted to be a total waste of time? Why is someone that has “failed to truthfully account” for something not been branded a liar? Why has no one been prosecuted? The sad reason is that in Ireland we prefer sugarcoated double-speak rather than the uncomfortable truth.
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The onus is now on the current Government to ensure such a travesty of time wasting never happens again. If someone is guilty, then drag them through the courts and throw them in jail. We can no longer afford expensive white elephants such as the Mahon tribunal and the Irish public should no longer stomach them.
In a time of austerity it is simply sinful the even contemplate ever again squandering cash on such costly circuses. Just like the only meaningful thing the Seaned produces on a yearly bases is enough hot air to float the egos of overpaid part time politicians who love the sound of their own voice, tribunals have also proved they are well past their sell-by date.
The findings of the Mahon Tribunal should be used as a wake up call for a nation that loves pointing the finger and looking for scapegoats. We need to demand a system where the privileged and wealthy actually have something to fear from fiddling the system.
The sad truth today however is that it is not Bertie Ahern that should be ashamed of himself, but all of us for hoping this charade would change anything.
Paul Allen is Managing Director of Paul Allen and Associates PR, www.prireland.com