Paddy wants to know!
There is something definitely a bit iffy about Irish politics of late, both at a national and a regional level. Well, when one says “of late” the whiff of something rotten has been detectable since the 1970s (as many investigative issues of the old Magill Magazine can testify to). However the death of the Celtic Tiger and the revelations of the political and financial skulduggery that thrived in its shadow has cast a light into some of the darker corners of the Irish body politic. The Anglo-tapes are the latest headline grabbing caper to catch the public’s attention though far worse things exist on the fringes that have yet to be revealed (far, far worse things in fact).
In the incestuous nexus of politics, business and class that represents the Irish establishment at its worse we have a toxic mix where political and business leaders rub shoulders and slap backs to each other’s benefit. As the Irish Independent newspaper reports (somewhat hypocritically, one should note, given its culpability in the era of the Celtic Tiger and well before that):
“TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has declined to answer calls to say who knew what and when about taped conversations between chiefs at the bust Anglo Irish Bank.
Amid accusations that the Government is protecting a “political elite” by refusing to investigate the issue, the Labour leader said the planned parliamentary inquiry into the scandal was the place to deal with it.
After weeks of leaked tape recordings and revelations of the cut-throat culture at Anglo, former public interest director Alan Dukes has come under the spotlight.
Opposition party Sinn Fein raised concerns about the politically-appointed board member – a former leader of Fine Gael – and whether he knew the tape recordings existed.
Mr Dukes served on the board at the state-owned Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC) – the rebranded Anglo – until its liquidation earlier this year. He was chairman.
If he was aware the tapes existed, Sinn Fein has claimed he should have informed the Fine Gael-Labour coalition Government and the Central Bank
Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said Mr Dukes was paid by the state to serve as public interest director at the toxic lender and therefore had a duty to disclose that these tapes existed.
“You are protecting the political elite, a former leader of Fine Gael, a former finance minister and a former Fine Gael senator,” Mr Doherty said.”
Indeed. Something is rotten in the state of Ireland. And it really is all of Ireland, as Slugger O’Toole reports:
“The first half of tonight’s BBC NI Spotlight investigation (now available on iPlayer) looked at the history of Red Sky losing its contract with the NI Housing Executive. Examples of poor workmanship; charging for work not done, sometimes in buildings that no longer existed; and claims of the Red Sky contract being targeted for sectarian rather than business reasons.
Mandy McAuley’s investigation then looked at the attempts to get the NI Housing Executive to extend Red Sky’s contract. It was known that Red Sky sought and achieved a meeting with DUP MLAs. Spotlight revealed the minutes from the meeting – though not all parties agree with the wording of those minutes. Questions were raised about whether a new company based at Red Sky’s address was trying to take over Red Sky’s old contracts and why there was a reluctance to provide details to the NIHE. Being present at a meeting discussing a potential contract could be problematic for ministers.
DUP Lisburn councillor Jenny Palmer was on the NIHE Board. She spoke on camera about a phone call she received from Stephen Brimstone – DSD Minister Nelson McCausland’s special advisor – asking her to go against the NIHE board’s decision when it next met.
Jenny Palmer’s recollection of the conversation was Stephen Brimstone saying:
“We need you to do that. The party comes first. You do what you’re told.”
She added: “Otherwise there’s no point in me being on the board if I wasn’t prepared to do what they ask me to do.”
Spotlight suggested that letters they sent to the minister asking for comment around their Red Sky investigation seemed to trigger the DSD Minister Nelson McCausland to “rush” to Assembly to give details from a report into the wider issue of NIHE maintenance contracts that had it was alleged had “sat on his desk” for months before. [The minister suggests an alternative timeline where the report was delayed inside the NIHE rather than within his department.] The minister’s statement pointed to other contractors with larger instances of overcharging backing up his claims of sectarianism.
Red Sky’s Pauline Gazzard alleged in a letter to the Red Sky administrators that Red Sky were making cash payments to (three) maintenance officers in NI Housing Executive. The programme noted that Pauline Gazzard had not reported this to the PSNI.
The last part of the 70 minute Spotlight episode examined the linkage between Turkington Holdings Ltd and the DUP, and the NIHE’s double glazing programme. Whether representatives of Turkingtons were representing their own company or were instead representing the Glass and Glazing Federation when they met with Nelson McCausland is disputed by the minister, Turkingtons and NIHE.
Despite correspondence from a solicitor – understood to have been supplied by the DUP – saying that Jenny Palmer was not clear which of her remarks were on or off the record, the programme said that the councillor confirmed she was happy with her statements and subsequently gave another taped interview to Mandy McAuley.
The programme ended with a round-up of responses from people mentioned throughout the programme…”
Oh dear. One hears that Belfast’s legal eagles are all of a flutter as the political establishment of British Unionism in Ireland, from politicos to, ahem, entrepreneurs, consult with their advisers on matters litigious.
As they would say in that previous rotten republic, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?