Irish Examiner view: Cahirciveen is just the latest example - we’ve dodged public accountability for too long

The most important discussions are sometimes the most difficult to have.
Irish Examiner view: Cahirciveen is just the latest example - we’ve dodged public accountability for too long
Details provided by the company running Cahirciveen's Skellig Star direct provision centre were offered as facts at the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee, though they did not stand up to scrutiny. Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan
Details provided by the company running Cahirciveen's Skellig Star direct provision centre were offered as facts at the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee, though they did not stand up to scrutiny. Picture: Valerie O’Sullivan

The most important discussions are sometimes the most difficult to have.

Lockdown may have either tightened that deadlock or, in less closed cases, helped some people break years of silence and maybe lift enduring unhappiness. That truth is as relevant for society as it is for individuals or for families.

Difficulties that are routinely swept, and left, under the carpet do not resolve themselves, but grow. That garroting chokes possibility, fairness, optimism, and engagement. Those denials always exact a toll.

One such issue, not entirely a taboo but certainly forbidden fruit, has bedevilled this society for generations.

But even mentioning it means a good proportion of the population look at their shoes, inspecting them as if they had never seen them before.

They, in silence, count the minutes until they can change to a less volatile subject. People who are generally rational, fair, and open-minded snarl their off-limits warnings in myriad ways. The discussion, no matter how justified, never takes place and the status quo endures.

Shrugging off the idea of accountability in public service has not been acceptable for many years, yet it is the orthodoxy shielding the indefensible.

Gardaí invent over 1m drink-driving tests but nobody is held to account; it takes 10 years for the ‘Grace’ file to reach the DPP and there are no consequences; health blunder after health blunder is the fault of “the system”. The list is as long as the National Children’s Hospital overruns are spectacular.

There may soon be another case to add to that file. It seems that last week the Department of Justice gave inaccurate information to the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee.

Issues around

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The lack of accountability and responsibility relating to the Department of Justice’s handling of the Caherciveen debacle has been a scandal.

That direct provision has now been made a responsibility of the Department of Children gives renewed hope these failures will be atoned for.

Like it or not, our parliament was misled because one official or another did not verify details provided by a third party.

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