Those of us of an older age or lover of classic TV will remember a much liked BBC series firstly called “Yes Minister” then “Yes Primeminister“. Over many great episodes the UK political systems and sometimes its civil service, was held up to a comedy spotlight. It was and still is regarded as brilliant script writing and acting too. My favorite episode? “The Key”.
In one episode a scandal breaks out and to and fro goes a debate what to do. Neither side of the main parties want their own people to be exposed or held to account. The conclusion at the end is that all sides agree to hold an inquiry – all knowing that this will mean in truth, bugger all will be held to true account and matters could be buried.
UK Primeminister, Margaret Thatcher, at the time of first airing stated that the scriptwriters might have well being listening into real conversations had by UK governments of the day and observing how political heads operate. It was a complement to the makers of the show and a tell-tale indication of real life matters rarely reported.
The Ireland Situation.
It’s frankly become a (too long) running, unfunny joke that Ireland inquiries or tribunals produce bugger all accountability. Be it an “inquiry”, “tribunal”or “commission” or another PR name that’s invented to call a group of elite selected people – supposedly looking into some thing – so they may them make a final report (after previous draft versions). These investigations held by elected people or their minions, have come increasingly become massive public repulsed. Why? Here is a number of reasons to begin with…
- Evidence is often not allowed to be submitted. Id some is, it’s reduced to parts, not the whole and reduced in impact effectiveness.
- Relevant people that could also give serious insight, professional opinion based on experience or training, are often excluded.
- In case such a group is close to uncovering too much (or might in future), their remit is strictly curtailed.
- People on it sometimes have questionable political connections.
- Legal ability to force people to turn up, is often a sick, unfunny joke.
- Some fearing being exposed not only refuse to turn up but also foist a legal team to stop further evidence being accessed, used or even questioned about.
- Those with evidence sometimes get away with not giving it up despite able being to.
- Files that have previously gone coincidentally missing just when they are needed, turn up later in the oddest location. Example: the (previous) office of Enda Kenny.
- Other files go mysterious missing.
- Other files are quickly shredded or destroyed.
- As with files, phones, records, emails, travel documents, appointment books and more suddenly go missing.
- The people who had items now missing, are allowed to escape from being held to account for their loss.
- Encrypted hard drives (when not able to be ‘lost’) are rendered useless by found damage or the password holder refuses to hand over access and is allowed get away with their refusal. Never held to account. Example – During the Anglo fiasco when computers was seized.
- Meetings take place were no notes are deliberate taken.
- The inquiries are allowed drag on for years. Sometimes they are possible deliberate dragged on as a war of financial attrition takes place, statute of limitations is waited to kick in or till a possible culprit passes away unpunished.
- Anyone questioned and found to have lied, is allowed off unpunished – so there is no fear about lying. Liars are then not called back to explain why they lied or they then refuse to further turn up. They get away with this.
- Report makers are told they cannot name names, companies, locations dates or other information that might identify things
- Any evidence actually found, is said to unusable or not allowed to be passed on for a further possible prosecution court case
- After an inquiry, or even during it, Garda are not allowed most of the time to investigate matters – and if they rare are – their input is kept in-house, never allowed speak public.
- Garda prosecutions rarely happen from the produced results of an inquiry. Any other investigation – if even then allowed to happen and not also stifled, has to start from complete scratch. They often cannot access inquiry evidence. It is denied to them.
- Politicians and their business mates are allowed escape prosecution – even when there is clear indicators of law breaking or clear evidence. Even worse, they are allowed continue operating untouched and are incredibly given state jobs, contracts or even further financial bailouts.
- Should there be damning reports that could see anyone still prosecuted because they are still love, certain parties can always slap a secretly order on it for 25, 30 or even 70 year period – and they have done!
- Should a report come out into the public domain, it is often watered down further before final release.
- Should a report come out into the public domain about the results of an inquiry, dragged out after tried on delays and excuses to keep it in house, it sometimes is released unannounced and/or suspected deliberate, on a day when there is a further news items grabbing main headlines.
The only ‘winners’ from any “inquiry” or “tribunal” is eventually the legal teams that have in the past and still are, making millions of Euro from their work. The hourly rate of pay that they charge being ridiculous amounts and if you ask about those rates – they are rarely revealed also. “Commercially sensitive” is the usual political excuse. One recent inquiry, more (hourly rate) money was further made by translators than by legal representatives who were themselves on a great rate – and that’s saying something.
…But we are used to inquiries or tribunals – or we should say – our politicians are. Here are just a few of them.
The Care Homes Inquiry.
So it will evitable be that an inquiry will be called for. Yes – another one. It’s terms of reference will be argued over for some time. It’s remit to delve into matters will be fought over and tried kept as limited as possible (can’t have anyone having free rein to go follow up on information or serious clues too much). Once again it’s expected that a mega white-wash will occur. No politician or party will get held to account.
Of course, there has to be mild scoldings – that makes it all the worthwhile in PR terms for RTE new broadcasts to the nation. Beyond “Mistakes were made” and “We could have done better at times” suggestions and more cover-all escapist soundbites, there will be no one elected losing their job, pay or pensions dues to any deaths or further crimes they directly contributed to by poor effort, too late effort or no effort whatsoever!
Again, the only eventual benefactors from it all, will be legal firms well versed in delay, attrition and obstruction methods. The losers once again will be the taxpayers of Ireland. Justice will not prevail for many families of those that have died. No one will likely be arrested. No one will likely see the inside of a court room facing charges.
If There Was An Attempt At Gaining Real Justice?
If a real investigation was ever to be created in Ireland, the way things are as ‘Old Politics’ is still alive and kicking, interfering in – or directing ongoing ‘inquiries’ – what is needed to start with is the following. I stress, these are just the beginning, need to be further better tweaked and definite more added.
- An outside group of people must to be appointed to an investigation setup. Those selecting this group should not have political connections to the government or parties of the day where matters under investigation, took place. Members of the group must vow to be not political, business or family connected to people under investigation. If it emerges later (genuinely unknown previously by a group person) that any such group person has connections to the matter or person(s0 being investigated, that group person must step down immediately.
- Garda, Interpol (or other investigation body) must not just be answerable to that group setup – they must be part of it at same level.
- Investigators should have carte-blanche ability to follow any trail. They must not be blocked or slow stalled.
- People should be able to be arrested for questioning and/or for placing of charges.
- The government of the day must not be able to interfere in any selection process or the actual inquiry/tribunal. For a start, it could be clear conflict of interest! If they feel they have ultimately done nothing wring, (a) what have they to fear and (b) they will have their day in court to defend themselves – just like ordinary citizens where they will be seen and treated as equal under the eyes of a judge and Irish law.
- Those found to be withholding evidence must be accountable.
- All persons deemed vital or necessary to any genuine investigation, must be made turn up. No one should be immune from a subpoena.
- All reports must not be buried. The exception – where the security of the state/people are further put at risk by their full disclosure.
- All those involved, ie. legal firms, must disclose their political connections and their rate of charges. Total transparency. Failure to do so, leading to serious legal consequences – from stripping of bar rank, fines and/or imprisonment – as well as company/firm ordered closure.
The above is just a start if we want REAL national investigation carried out in Ireland.
Those calling for an inquiry? They should be not only calling for far, far better – they should be making it happen!
20 year barman. Re-educated as an I.T. professional, website creator, I.T teacher, digital media management & marketing professional. Studied accountancy, taxation, business management & law. Founder of UnitedPeople political party – click here. Previously the first National Chairman of Direct Democracy Ireland (DDI) & founder of the Louth branch of DDI. Author. Regular contributor to social media. TV & radio guest experiences. Appeared in the Oireachtas & Dublin Highcourts to defend the rights of citizens along with exposing many wrongs. Consistently seeks greater democracy & accountability from all elected levels of Ireland. Currently writing two books, non-fiction “Life Behind Bars” & “Better Tomorrows“.