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FAIR play to Lucinda Creighton for highlighting the utter hypocrisy of Fine Gael attacking Fianna Fáil over its unhealthy wheeling and dealing with property developers and reliance on lavish corporate fundraising events while being obviously partial to similar means of financing its own party machine.
It is not so long since FG deputies and senators were tripping over themselves as they lined up to shriek with indignation at the “outrageous” and “inappropriate” Galway tent, lambasting the very idea of all those corporate big shots rubbing shoulders with the Fianna Fáil top brass.
Now we see how alike the two largest parties really are. For what is the difference between doing it in a tent on a racecourse and staging colossal fundraisers for your party at the plush K Club? “Cute-hoorism” can thrive in either locale. Some commentators have criticised Ms Creighton’s remarks as “ill-timed”. Surely it was the timing of the marathon fundraiser that was inapt? All those guys swaggering about against a background of opulence and bulging wallets while so many Irish people are struggling to pay for food and electricity, or are coping with the nightmare of negative equity. What starkly contrasting images.
Corporate donations have a serious potential unduly to influence political decision-making.
How could it be otherwise?
We should shout from the rooftops at Enda Kenny to follow the advice of Deputy Creighton. If his party wishes to retain a shred of credibility on the issue of maintaining high standards in politics, it should hand back all of the money it raised at that golf classic extravaganza. We should also, I suggest, remind the Government that it promised to ban corporate donations.
The Greens will probably be accused of pushing “trophy legislation”, as Labour loudly proclaimed when John Gormley steered through the stag hunting ban, but they will have the satisfaction of knowing they will be helping to clean up Irish politics by ending a system of party funding that is wide open to abuse and that has distorted the democratic process in Ireland for decades.
The Roman poet Horace had a keen insight into the corrupting influence of Mammon. His words call to mind what has long been an integral feature of our political scene:
“Money, dear Romans, that’s the primal need
Virtue will follow, but let riches lead
Wealth, wealth is the goal
From which we dare not swerve
Fair means are best
But any means will serve”
Lr Coyne Street
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