Monday, April 21, 2008

Close down the Mahon Tribunal

Originally intended to investigate planning-corruption, the Mahon Tribunal has instead turned into something some might feel is worthy of being called an Inquisition. An almost interminable stream of highly partial leaks to the press, encouraged by a system that distributes documents to an almost interminable list of participants in the Tribunal, would be viewed as prejudicing a fair trial were this a trial at all. Instead it has assumed the appearance, in the eyes of many, or a witch-hunt to rival Whitewater during the Clinton administration in the US.

Now don't get me wrong: I am not condoning what An Taoiseach did in a previous incarnation as Finance Minister in 1994. I believe that Ministers should not only not be beholden to vested interests, but that they should not even allow the appearance of such. But the Tribunal was established to investigate planning-corruption, and it seems when it doesn't find evidence of this, it roots around the business of politicians in the hope of either justifying its continuing existence, or continuing to make millionaires out of lawyers. A Tribunal expected in the beginning to last a few months has taken 10 years, and cost the taxpayer 1 billion euros. That is not to say that the Tribunal has not done the state some service: it exposed the corruption of former Minister Ray Burke, Liam Lawlor and George Redmond. But it has long since seemed to many people to have bordered on degenerating into a witch-hunt against Bertie Ahern in particular. To quote Cromwell (not my favourite person) I would say to the Tribunal: “you have been sat to long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, i say, and let us have done with you. In the name of god, go!.”

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