Bogus letter - Fianna Fáil should expel councillor

It is a preposterous notion that an election candidate can both misappropriate the Taoiseach’s signature and misuse Oireachtas material to gain electoral advantage, and that his election is afterwards allowed stand.

By employing such duplicitous tactics, Fianna Fáil councillor and former Minister of State Lorcan Allen perpetrated a calculated deception on the electorate in the Gorey area.

Yesterday, he admitted producing and distributing 2,500 copies of a bogus letter, purporting to be from and signed by Bertie Ahern, seeking support for Mr Allen in the local election, to the detriment of his party colleague, Pat Rath.

He further admitted using freepost Oireachtas envelopes, to which he was not entitled, to circulate the letter a few days before the county council election.

It is impossible to decipher what advantage his dishonesty afforded him in securing election on the ninth count, but he should not be benefit from it.

Having previously denied any knowledge of the letter, by either himself or his campaign staff, it is not good enough that a belated confession should be allowed condone his election by deceit.

In a feeble effort to justify his actions, Mr Allen said the letters were “distributed during the pressurised atmosphere of an intensive election campaign”, as if to suggest that no other candidate did not suffer similar pressure. The difference is that no other candidate resorted to underhand tactics in order to gain an unfair and deceitful advantage to win a council seat.

Neither is it good enough that Fianna Fáil should consider the matter of so little significance that it warrants a mere slap on the wrist.

The party’s statement that his conduct was totally unacceptable and wrong hardly reflects the seriousness of what Mr Allen did.

A spokesperson for the party said the investigation into the incident was “ongoing” and the matter of who supplied Mr Allen with the envelopes still had to be resolved. But the issue of his future is one for the party locally.

The attitude would appear to be that he has put his hands up and admitted his guilt and they have to move on now.

Under no circumstances should Mr Allen’s political future be just a matter for the local party, unless, of course, Fianna Fáil headquarters consider the fraudulent use of the Taoiseach’s signature as a matter of little consequence.

It is unlikely that the honourable course of resigning his seat would be considered by a man who has resorted to such dishonourable ploys to contrive his election.

Fianna Fáil, if they are sincere about and committed to the concepts of ethics, transparency and accountability, should unceremoniously expel him from the party.

If he is allowed remain in the party, Fianna Fáil will be seen as endorsing the philosophy of winning by any means, if those means justify the end.

Such an attitude would send out a message that politics in this country is still mired in double standards and only lip service is paid to lifting it to a higher plane.

As a party candidate, Mr Allen resorted to tawdry tactics in their name and used the Taoiseach’s name to further his duplicity.

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