My editorial from this morning’s paper – things move fast in a situation like this and tomorrow we could be seeing the Greens relinquishing spinelessness and making a stand. Hopefully.
We’ve a funny attitude to the law in this country. Sure, we’ll chance it. Last week I wrote about the cavalier attitude of members of the public towards Real IRA threats to murder drug dealers in Cork. Comments on our website indicate that most people still believe they are right to do so.
This week, one Cabinet Minister is taking a miniscule amount of flak for defaming someone, then saying he didn’t, then admitting he said it but saying it was a mistake, then saying he’d forgotten he said it.
Another Minister is taking a very large amount of flak for refusing to break the law to allow Michael O’Leary to open his own terminal in Dublin Airport. O’Leary is taking the Government hostage in this issue in order to further the interests of Ryanair, a commercial entity whose sole purpose is to make money.
The media storm surrounding Michael O’Leary’s campaign to acquire a terminal for the use of Ryanair in Dublin Airport is nothing short of scandalous. Of the national media, only the Irish Times has reflected on the issue and remained impartial; the others are screaming for Mary Coughlan’s head on a plate. While ‘Calamity’ Coughlan has made plenty of mistakes, this is not one of them.
Dublin Airport Authority is the organisation responsible for dealing with commercial issues around the airport. Not the Tánaiste’s Department. If Mary Coughlan did a special favour, like this, for a less skilful media player, she would be pilloried. And now she is being pilloried for not doing it. DAA has entered a contract with Aer Lingus to lease Hangar Six. That is a legally binding agreement. Anybody remember what that means? No? An agreement that even the government can’t interfere with.
And O’Leary’s campaign is a clever one; everyone hates Coughlan, make her the bad guy in all of this, use a handy emotive issue (jobs) to hang your case on, and nobody will bother investigating.
Tick, another notch on the bedpost of Ryanair and another defeat for Aer Lingus. Which, let’s not forget, we still own part of. Who’s to say that Ryanair would not provide those jobs in the short term, then dump them in order to set up a less labour-intensive, cost efficient, profitmaking, second terminal? I wouldn’t bet my house on it.
The other Minister I refer to is, of course, Willie O’Dea. Mr O’Dea was interviewed by the Limerick Chronicle in advance of the last General Election. He told an untruth in relation to another candidate, Maurice Quinlivan of Sinn Féin, one that would ruin his reputation and his electoral chances, and it was printed.
The defamation case settled out of court. In the course of the case, Minister O’Dea swore an affidavit to the effect that he never uttered such a statement. This was proven to be untrue when a recording of the interview was produced. He admitted that he had ‘made a mistake’.
While Mr Quinlivan is satisfied with the outcome of the case, lying on a court document is a matter for the court, not for the plaintiff. Minister O’Dea is a qualified barrister and is aware of the law. And this should have been pursued by the court.
It wasn’t, and neither was it pursued by the media. Now, Fine Gael has finally latched onto it but the Green Party, in an amazing show of how spineless it has become, has not taken a stand. Again. One Minister’s job being threatened because she refuses to break the law. Another’s job perfectly safe even though he did break it. Law? What law?