TAOISEACH Brian Cowen has endured an uncomfortable week. His discomfort may be exacerbated by wondering if different standards are applied to different politicians in the light of the PJ Sheehan affair.
Deputy Sheehan belatedly apologised to a Leinster House garda for abusing her when she stopped him driving his car because she thought he was unfit to do so. He also resigned from a minor position on the Fine Gael front bench. Had he been a private citizen he might have lost his licence, been charged with obstructing a garda and possibly lost his job.
Though Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny would like to convince us he has dealt with the matter he still has difficult questions to answer.
Why did he wait so long to make any statement on the affair, even though he was aware of the essential facts? Why did he not immediately remove Mr Sheehan from his front bench and tell him his behaviour was so unacceptable as to make it impossible for Fine Gael to nominate him to contest another election.
As Mr Sheehan is 77 that could hardly be described as cutting a political career off in its prime.
Did he hope the abuse of position, the bullying and the intemperate attack on a public servant, who had nothing other than the safety of Mr Sheehan and other road users in mind, might go unnoticed, making any statement unnecessary?
Mr Kenny aspires to be Taoiseach after the next election but his good-ol’-boys response suggests, however well intended, his judgement was flawed and that he behaved incorrectly.
Mr Sheehan can slip into history’s shadows with his reputation damaged but if Mr Kenny is to realise his ambitions, we are entitled to expect behaviour of a far higher standard from him.
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