I don’t care about John O’Donoghue’s recent apologies for the size of his expenses since 2004. I don’t care that he regrets running up a bill of €0.5m over a period of time when the other 165 members of the house ran up expenses of €8m between them.
John O’Donoghue is mocking the people of this country by apologising for events that happened, as he said himself in his statement to the Dail, “in accordance with standard procedures”.
Apologies and regret means nothing in this particular situation.
In the same manner as someone apologising with the words “I’m sorry that you took offence at what I said” rather than actually apologising for what might have been said, John O’Donoghue is sorry that his expenses seem excessive in these straightened times, not for the fact that he ran up the expenses in the first place.
John O’Donoghue said that he was embarrassed by the extent of some of the expenses, and the fact that they are being revealed at a time when so many people are finding it tough to make ends meet. But really, John O’Donoghue doesn’t care because in his own mind, he believes did nothing wrong, and no one complained about the expenses at the time they were incurred.
John O’Donoghue was ticking boxes when he makes these statements to the Dail and by extension to the people of Ireland. He was apologising to keep his party leader and colleagues happy. Now, whenever they’re confronted with the “John O’Donoghue expenses” controversy they have the perfect “out” of saying “case closed, he’s apologised, lets move on!”
The opposition are happy with the apology as well. They’re previous supposed outrage and indignation is appeased by a simple formula of weasel words uttered under the privilege of Dail statements. As someone who has in the past defended Fine Gael as being a viable alternative government – how would anyone get a job if the same criteria being applied to Enda Kenny were applied to everyone else starting out working – I’m disappointed that the opposition are letting O’Donoghue off the hook so easily. This doesn’t bode well for any change in how things might be “when the revolution comes”.
The Government this weekend have shown even further contempt for the people who actually pay their expenses by sneaking out the full picture of Mr. O’Donogue’s expenses on the day of the Lisbon vote. In the immortal words of the UK Labour party spin-doctor, in Ireland, Friday was “a good day to release bad news” in the hope that no one noticed.
Gavin and Mark did notice, and you can read more about Fridays events, and the O’Donogue expenses released, here on TheStory.ie. You’d expect nothing more from this Government really.
What I do care about in all of this is the fact that there is primarily one person who has the control over what happens with Government expenses, and can institue any changes required to streamline the process so that it costs the taxpayer less money. That person is the head of what’s called The Oireachtas Commission – set up in 2002 to “oversee and control the funding and organisation of the Office of the Houses of the Oireachtas”. This commission was described at the time as being “a very significant change which is part of an overall series of changes and reforms provided for by the Government to ensure a more accountable”.
Given the intention of providing accountability, the irony of all this is that the person who heads up this Commission at the moment is John O’Donoghue.
If his mealy mouthed words of apology recently are to mean anything, then the man can use the powers that he already has by carrying out real reform of the politicial expenses system.
This government is more about the words that the deeds, but if John O’Donoghue really wants to show the independence of his position, he should do this one thing. Or else resign.