“Out flew the web and floated wide- / The mirror crack’d from side to side;/’The curse is come upon me,’ cried/ The Lady of Shalott.”
I don’t know how many Fianna Failers learnt The Lady of Shalott at school, but after yesterday’s publication of the Mahon Report most of them must feel they know it in their bones if not in their brains. As if what happened last election wasn’t bad enough, with the dominant force in Irish politics reduced to a few scrawny seats in the Dail. Just when they’ve dragged themselves up and put on a really professional Ard Fheis, with leader Micheal up on that podium/altar placating the gods with a rousing speech of resurrection, comes this. Dara Colleary was on RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, and if you ever wondered what a man on his way to the gallows looked like, Dara’s face last night gave the answer. There was a spirited little chap who’d been an advisor or was it a press officer to Fianna Fail on as well, and he wanted to know was the Mahon Report necessarily true (he has a point, but it’s a very very tiny one, like the light of a distant oncoming train in a tunnel), but other than that it was a matter of how many of the big heads from the past were going to be expelled from the party. Miriam didn’t ask anyone if they went to confession, so it’s clear she believes lying and corruption aren’t actually what you’d call sins. But then Miriam, like God, moves in mysterious ways. Sam Smyth was on and there was an effort to tie the present Taoiseach into it, by saying he had appeared on a Paddy’s Day platform with Denis O’Brien, who apparently takes a hammering in the report as well.Pat Rabbitte did a bit of his usual pompous pontificating on that by talking about something else entirely, but nobody was really listening. The spotlight was clearly on the Fianna Fail party and it wasn’t just Bertie who was in the rifle sights: Flynn, Haughey, Reynolds – even, by association, Martin. And countless others. Oh dear. The mills of God grind slow (and very very expensively in this case) but they grind exceeding small. The next set of opinion polls will be interesting, wouldn’t you say?
A final, slightly baffling point: I have a brother-in-law in the south and he’s been saying for years that there isn’t a council in the south that hasn’t corruption as some part of the system. If that’s the case, why was everybody in the Prime Time studio pretending to be so mortally shocked? My brother-in-law is a smart man but he’s not that smart. Yerrah sure, maybe hypocrisy isn’t a sin either.