The Irish Mail on Sunday (MoS) is, rightly, focusing on the disgraceful behaviour of civil servants who dealt with the Ned O’Keeffe allegations of fraud.
Reading the report in today’s paper I could immediately identify with the deep frustration of dealing with a secretive, arrogant bureaucracy determined to protect the interests of their political overlords at all costs.
The overall feeling when dealing with these people is one of powerlessness, that no matter what the alleged wrongdoing, the system is always going to protect the politician.
More disturbingly, there is a rapidly developing culture of invincibility among civil servants that no matter how badly they get things wrong, no matter how damaging their behaviour is to the public good, there will be no consequences.
Back in 2007, for example, I rang Dublin City Council with a very simple question.
Was Fianna Fail TD, and then minister, Pat the Cope Gallagher fined for illegally erecting election posters?
Nine months later, after numerous phone calls, emails, letters and formal complaints I finally succeeded in getting an answer.
Here are some of the bizarre/arrogant responses I got from so-called civil servants.
Bernie Lillis of Dublin City Council told me that it was her personal office policy not to reveal such information. It was, she claimed, a personal matter between her office and the politician.
The Standards in Public Office Commission rejected my complaint on the grounds that the matter (breaking of the law by a government minister on two separate occasions) was not of sufficient gravity to warrant an investigation.
Donegal County Council replied to my formal complaint (sent by post) that they could not investigate the matter, as they had received no formal complaint.