Ireland: Corruption at heart of Celtic Tiger
23 March 2012
The Irish Times, Irish Independent
“Corruption and abuse of power 'endemic' in politics,” headlines the Irish Times, one day after the publication of the report of the Mahon Tribunal, the longest running public inquiry in the history of the state.
Launched in 1997 to investigate corrupt payments to politicians mainly over planning permissions and land re-zoning issues, the tribunal –
… accused former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of untruthfulness. It found former European commissioner Pádraig Flynn behaved corruptly, and said another former taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, had abused his power.
The tribunal states that Ahern did not tell the truth over payments worth more than IR£275,000 [€349,177] which passed through bank accounts connected to him. Ahern has always claimed that the cash was not taken for planning favours granted to property developers but “personal loans” from friends to help during a difficult period in his life when he was going through a separation.
The 3,200 page report also found former EU commissioner Padraig Flynn guilty of taking bribes during his time as Irish environment minister from 1987-1993. Flynn had accepted a IR£50,000 [€63,486] “donation” from a property developer who wished to purchase a farm in the west of Ireland. It also condemned the involvement of senior government figures such as ex-Taoiseach Albert Reynolds “in seeking financial contributions from businessmen who were in turn lobbying government to support various commercial projects.”
In a hard-hitting leader entitled “Shameful and sickening: we've had enough”, the Irish Independent notes that the most “insidious effects” of corruption -
… were felt during the Celtic Tiger boom and immediately after a solemn undertaking by Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach, in 1997 that he would not tolerate corruption and the perpetrators would be hunted down.