Corruption? Give me a break

19th May 2000

I’M absolutely fed up with people moralising on and on about the revelations coming from the tribunals as if the rest of us were more pure than the politicians.

The vast majority of Irish people have pulled a stunt at some point in their lives. Has everyone declared every penny of their income? Does everyone obey the speed limits?

There has been no reports of people being trampled to death by drinkers trying to get out of pubs at twelve o’clock on the dot.

I’d love to know if all those neat little garden walls around Dublin were built by tax complying weekend builders.

And yet I have to listen to people who haven’t made a tax return in years go on about how the politicians are all crooked and out for themselves.

Get up the yard.

The second thing that gets my goat about all this business is the idea that we, the Irish, are particularly crooked, that our standards are particularly shoddy and backward compared to our more enlightened and ‘mature’ European neighbours.

Let me tell you about a few of the things we’re not.

We’re not trading post central for thousands of eastern bloc women forced into prostitution like the Netherlands.

We’re not the ones who put illiterate Turks into nuclear reactors to clean them out like happened in Germany.

We’re not the ones who castrated undesirables like the Swedish.

And as bad as we treat the Travellers, we didn’t actually take their children away, never to be seen again, like the Swiss did.

So the story is: (a) we’re not perfect and (b) we’re not all bad. In fact, we’re just human.

You’d think that the recent years were taking us on the path to deliverance from evil, that in the future all will be perfect.

Well, I’ve got news for you.

Next year there will be corruption, criminality and murder. The year after that there will be corruption, criminality and murder. And so on.

There will be no deliverance. The best we can hope for is to nudge things towards a more fair and open society that will keep the dark side to a minimum. I believe that we have already achieved this to some extent.

Ok, the corruption was bad. But not so bad. In many parts of the world some of the people involved actually end up beneath the basements of their own developments. We didn’t get that far.

Now the danger is that we will over-react. Already there are plans to make politics a State sponsored activity. While I fully agree that corporate interests must not be allowed to bend politics, regulation will only serve to stifle free speech.

The last thing we want is some bloody bureaucrat vetting political dissent.

The biggest fear I have is that people will believe that corruption can be prevented by more and more policing. Down that road lies the end of personal liberty.

The only way to deal with criminals is to catch them when they break the law. We should not allow an ideology to emerge that says life should be set up so that we can’t do wrong.

So I say to our newly ordained three million nuns and priests that to sin is human, that the flesh is weak and that a goodly proportion of you would have taken the money if only you’d been offered.

So give me a break and remember that rank hypocrisy is also a sin (I think).