The root cause of this national catastrophe is the culture of impunity that spread like a contagion since the Haughey era. - Eddie Molloy
We know what the problems are - it's time for solutions. Molloy lists specific solutions to a root cause of our national crisis - the fact that the bad guys routinely get away with doing bad things. In a word, impunity.
Laws are supposed to protect us from our worst instincts. Impunity subverts that goal.Ireland is comparable to a country that has been involved in a needless war – and lost. The coffers are empty and we are saddled with a debt of €50 billion; a generation of young people has been lost to the nation; people have died and more will die; bulldozers are coming in to clear the rubble of ghost estates; national sovereignty has been compromised; and the population is shocked, disoriented and fearful. Yet the generals who called the shots are still in power.
Eddie Molloy tackles this head on today in the Irish Times:
Molloy lists the elements of a cure.For John Gormley, accountability means getting a “grilling”. When Richard Crowley suggested in another radio interview that no one would be held accountable for the staggering waste of public money revealed in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s latest report the Minister firmly rebutted such an ill-informed and cynical suggestion: “You’re wrong there, people are held accountable, officials have to come before the Public Accounts Committee where they get a grilling”. I must say that if I knocked down a little old lady while driving under the influence, I’d be very happy to get away with just a grilling from gardaí.
In the spheres of morality, the legal system, corporate governance and performance management accountability without consequences is meaningless. The Taoiseach clearly appreciates this fundamental principle of any functioning institution since he repeatedly cites the clear-out of irresponsible bankers as evidence of his determination to hold people to account. Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan reassures us that we can expect lots more resignations, adding grimly that not only should such people be fired, they should be investigated by the Garda and jailed if they are found guilty of wrongdoing. They are asserting the principle that accountability must carry consequences.
We all agree, and Brian Dobson asks the question on everyone’s lips: “What are the consequences for calamitous political failure, the failure of Ministers and senior public servants?”
1. Restore the Freedom of Information system to its original intended status.
2. Clean up political funding – make it totally transparent.
3. Introduce an effective whistleblowers charter.
4. Act on the President’s advice and install a proper performance management system in the public service.
5. Change the rules so that firing a public servant when there are justifiable grounds is not a federal case.
6. Bring in laws that can effectively deal with white-collar crime, quickly.
7. Change the law so that senior officials can reveal the advice they gave to ministers (who hide behind the “I acted on the best advice” mantra). Publish the advice, as in Sweden.
8. Above all, effectively restore perjury as a crime that carries a long jail sentence on conviction.
Living in a society where no one ever carries the can - The Irish Times - Sat, Oct 09, 2010
If that cure is to work it needs to be administered. Who will step up to the mark?