PJ Mara and speaking ill of the dead


Nauseating is the only appropriate word to describe the response to the death of PJ Mara.

Before continuing I want to make comment on one of the most ridiculous, most hypocritical of Irish cultural myths – the demand that we should never speak ill of the dead.

In the vast majority of cases this is a laudable principle. Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes in life; we all do some wrong. So when an ordinary person dies it is right that their mistakes and wrongs be forgiven and forgotten.

But it is completely different when the person in question is not an ordinary person. When the deceased person’s actions and decisions had a massive impact on the lives of other humans and on their country.

I will use an extreme example to make the point. Nobody in their right mind would suggest that the actions of child killer Robert Black should be put to one side just because he died.

At the other extreme nobody would object to the avalanche of praise and respect afforded to Nobel laureate and poet Seamus Heaney when he passed away in 2013.

My point is obvious; when somebody with a significant public stature dies their lives should be honestly appraised with perhaps an emphasis on the good but certainly never a complete denial of the bad.

And that is one of the great hypocrisies of official Ireland. When a member of their class passes away the truth is immediately locked up and the doors to lies and hypocrisy are opened. Anyone who dares make even a sneaking reference to anything negative is immediately attacked as speaking ill of the dead.

One such individual was Alan Barrett, Director of ESRI on the Marian Finucane Show last Sunday.

Mr. Barrett, tentatively, made some references to the truth regarding Mara’s career but he didn’t get very far before Ms. Finucane interrupted his flow.

I found the coverage quite extraordinary and not wanting to criticise political journalists there’s an element of which it’s terribly self- indulgent by the people who are writing about it. My perspective is that this is a guy that worked with possibly the most corrupt man in Irish history, Charlie Haughey. A man who almost spawned a generation of men who behaved wrongly.

Marian Finucane had heard enough, Barrett was talking truth and that is unacceptable when referring to an honoured member of the political ruling class.

We don’t want to demonise him.

Barrett went on to make his point, all the time being very careful of his words in case he spoke too much truth.

When he suggested that a lot of Mara’s work was nothing more than facilitating access to government ministers Michael O’Regan, parliamentary correspondent for the Irish Times and probably the most captured journalist in Irish media, took him to task.

All parties do it argued O’Regan as if that was justification enough for political corruption.

The discussion, now successfully steered away from truth, reverted to the usual lies and hypocrisy.

O’Regan went on to extol the great achievement of the (corrupt) Haughey aided and abetted by his (henchman) PJ Mara.

As I said, all very nauseating but depressingly predictable.

Copy to:
Marian Finucane
Michael O’Regan