Sargent Major Trouble

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Before the last general election Trevor Sargent told the country that he would not lead the Greens into government with Fianna Fail. We should have paid very careful attention to his wording. He didn’t say he wouldn’t go into government with Fianna Fail. He didn’t say the Greens wouldn’t help Fianna Fail stay in government. He said that “HE wouldn’t LEAD the Greens into government with Fianna Fail”.

As we now know he was true to the letter of his word if not that spirit. He stepped aside to allow John Gormley LEAD the Greens into government with Fianna Fail. And he didn’t step aside in protest. He accepted a job as a Junior Minister.

When a government is founded on a lie what chance does it have?

If there is any justice in the collapse of the economy it is that the Greens by pulling this bait and switch ensured that the architects of the collapse (Fianna Fail) had to be in power when it inevitably happened. One can only imagine the spin that Fianna Fail would have dreamed up if Fine Gael had been unlucky enough to with the last election.

Prior to the election people inside Fianna Fail were saying that it was “the election to lose”. Make no mistake, they knew what was coming down the line.

The other great justice of course is that by swindling the voters, the Greens ensured that they are right there in the middle of it and being wiped out. The Greens don’t deserve the blame for our economic woes, but they do deserve the blame for allowing Fianna Fail to remain in power, and boy are they getting what they deserve on that front.

The Irony is that if the Greens had been in opposition when the country was falling apart they would have had more “I told you so” moment than they knew what to do with. They would certainly have done well in the local elections and would have picked up seats when the next general election came along.

What a price to pay for keeping Fianna Fail in government. Justice isn’t usually served this efficiently in politics.

And so to this week. I jump in the car to drive to the accountants and I hear murmurings about Trevor Sargent. By the time I leave the accountants to drive home he’s gone, resigned.

I don’t buy the notion that Sargent is some sort of saint or wronged man. It’s quite interesting to hear people praise him for leaving office without a fight. Or praising him for donating his payoff to charity. Or praising him for just trying to help out a constituent.

I can’t get my head around the notion that ministers can write to Gardai on department headed notepaper, and lobby on behalf of a person that is the subject of an investigation or prosecution. When we hear people calling radio shows to defend such actions we get a real insight into how bad legislators keep getting elected to the Dail. It’s hard enough to keep lobbyists from influencing politicians, but in this country there is an acceptance that it’s ok for politicians to lobby the gardai.

In simple terms the Irish demand wiggle room when it comes to laws and ethics. The same wiggle room perhaps that Sargent used to get into government in the first place. The notion that “we get the government we deserve” seems more and more apt with every passing day. Perhaps it’s better to say that we get the government that listeners to Liveline deserve.

Sargent’s greatest sin wasn’t lobbying the garda. Thankfully the garda was sensible enough to ignore him. There was no real harm done by Sargent’s intervention. The real damage was actually done in the past few days as the story came to light. The real damage was fostering the myth that Sargent was honest and just trying to help. Perpetuating the notion that this sort of behavior should be ok and Sargent is a wronged man.

And of course, the man who became a minister on the back of a lie left office on the back of one too. He spoke outside the Dail on his resignation and gave the clear impression that this was something in his past, he had forgotten about it. We then learn that he had written letters as recently as last week.

I haven’t parsed his resignation speeches to see if he stuck to the letter of the truth, but he definitely showed scant regard for the spirit of the truth.

So. No change there then.

As for giving his payoff to charity, surely the question we need to ask here is why someone to resigns after breaking the law is getting €50,000 of a payoff. It would also be nice to know when happened to minister O’Dea’s payoff. It looks now like the taxpayer actually paid a good chunk of the damages in is defamation case.

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