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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Can John O’Donoghue jump the next hurdle?

John O’Donnoghue must decide whether he’s Ceann Comhairle or Hector Ó hEochagáin. Both share a love of matters equine. Both have been at Bertie Ahern’s side, O’Donoghue as a Minister, Hector famously hung out with Bertie on TV before Bertie was just hung.
Being elected is an honour. Being Ceann Comhairle is a position of enormous trust. You don’t have to run in the nest election. As minister, John clearly enjoyed enormously his time in office and he’s got the receipts to prove it. He was clearly bitten by the travel bug and unfortunately he’s yet to be cured. There is no body to scrutinise his expenses. Many of his expenses are bona fide and relate to his function. Nobody denies him the right to travel abroad on oireachtas business and to get his expenses covered. But in his own words however they seem a little high. If by releasing the details at the time of the Lisbon Referendum he thought he’s escape undamaged he could never have been more wrong. And I accept that he has been a fair chairman of proceedings in the Daíl.

John O’Donnoghue is now living in another world. I remember John O’Donnoghue when he had a direct moral compass. John was very clear on how wrong doers should be punished. It was as clear as the view from the Ring of Kerry on a bright Summer’s day. Zero tolerance was his mantra then. Set his enormous expenses claim against the economic slump John now more resembles Nero tolerance, fiddling while Rome burns. As a consequence I have very little sympathy for him in his present predicament. He ruthlessly put the blame personally on his opposite number Nora Owen for all the failings of the Gardaí or the Department of Justice. In the words of the newspaper article that elected him to office, it’s payback time. I think John O’Donnoghue should stand down as Ceann Comhairle. He will become a distraction as the controversy rumbles on and on it will continue until its inevitable conclusion. John is reaping a whirlwind that he sowed himself many years ago. Why did he need to order limousines to transfer between airport terminals. Why was he giving enormous tips to drivers of a value beyond the amount paid to unemployed people in this country? No one begrudges him an interest in horse racing but why can’t he pay for this interest out of his own pocket? No one begrudges him the endearing company of his wife however does her presence by his side abroad constitute Daíl business?

John O’Donoghue has lost touch with the mood of the people. It’s time for him to meet with party leaders and explain how he will restore the standing of his office in the eyes of the people. I think that’s best done by him vacating the job. What is key now is whether he’ll go or have to be pushed. I wonder what odds Hector is giving? I think however that FF & the greens may well brazen it out on this one and hang on to him despite it all.

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