Beverly Flynn – Business as usual in the ‘’Republic’?
1 July 2007
It hasn’t taken long after the election for the emperor that is Fianna Fail to openly parade the clothes of corruption. The deals that Bertie Ahern has made with a number of independents to ensure their support for him as Taoiseach include a deal (or no deal?) with Beverly Flynn, disgraced ex-Fianna Fail politician re-elected in Mayo.
Ahern has demanded complete secrecy from these Deputies on the content of each of their deals while brazenly claiming that the State expenditure lavished for his personal political benefit is none of the public’s business! Apparently these deals are covered by Fianna Fail’s Programme for Government anyway, which begs the question why these Deputies have deals at all or why the details of theses superfluous deals cannot be revealed.
In the case of Flynn the deal seems to concentrate on her getting a nice big job in government during the term of the new coalition. Ahern has made such possibilities easier by expanding the number of junior ministries from the already bloated 17 to 20. As one paper noted, it’s pretty vague what many of these jobs actually do, but that shouldn’t matter because, rather like a monarchical system, it’s the title and perquisites of office that are what count.
In the case of Flynn the benefits of the last two weeks go way beyond what others might receive. From imminent bankruptcy and loss of her Dail seat she is now on her way into government.
It might be convenient to begin this story in 1998 when RTE broadcast a report that Flynn was involved in systematic and organised tax evasion while she worked as an investment advisor with the National Irish Bank (NIB). Flynn took a libel action against RTE and lost, losing an appeal to the Supreme Court as well. In 2004 a High Court inspector’s investigation into NIB found that Flynn and 19 other officials were involved in tax scams over a ten year period.
It is pointless to ask why she has not faced criminal prosecution since the gamut of State authorities, including our wonderful Tribunals of Investigation, exist precisely to ensure that whatever dirty laundry has to be exposed is to the benefit of the laundry. The ‘full rigours of the law’, including going to jail, is generally for the little people.
Flynn then took a case arguing against the unconstitutionality of the provision that bankrupts could not sit in the Dail. This was an entirely disinterested case on her part her lawyer claimed!! (No wonder one letter writer to ‘The Irish Times’ suggested that the new born baby Giraffe at Dublin Zoo should be called Beverly – what a neck!) Her attempts to prevent full payment of the rapidly accumulating amounts owing to RTE on foot of her failed libel bid were going nowhere, but the amount owed by her was going up as interest accumulated. Offers on her part to pay a fraction of what she owed were understandably rejected by RTE.
Then Ahern, not averse to a dig out himself, declared that Beverly Flynn had a ‘legitimate aspiration’ to hold a junior ministership in the lifetime of the new government if she just sorted something out. Beverly then claimed she had a deal with Ahern while he denied he had any such deal written down and she said it wasn’t written down. There was no need: ‘Bertie and I understand what is important for the country,’ she said. Next week RTE announced that it was settling its demand for €2.8 million costs from Flynn and was accepting a settlement somewhere in the region of only €1.2 million.
Stories such as the one I have just recounted usually end with the words . . . and they all lived happily ever after. But let us nevertheless continue.
We are to believe that a case that was going nowhere for three years has suddenly been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction after the Taoiseach intervened and promised Flynn promotion to government. And all this was a coincidence. RTE just simply changed its mind and accepted what was previously unacceptable. TV licence payers may foot the bill but in the words of the ad – she’s worth it. Indeed her Da says she is a ‘class act’. Which bring us to her Da . . . but that is another story altogether. Or is it?
The outrageous suggestion that Ahern put pressure on RTE to settle has been explained elliptically by the formers’ need of the goodwill of ‘Pee’ Flynn, the Da, who has a Tribunal to attend over €50,000 he is supposed to have received from a property developer. Ahern is due to attend the same Mahon Tribunal; although, with the help of the Greens, he is re-tabling legislation that would allow him to wind up these tiresome Tribunals.
Not so much a fairy tale then so much as a crime novel. Indeed the Flynn dynasty appears to use the word ‘class’ in rather a similar manner to the way others use the word ’honour.’ And a dynasty it is. The not uncommon phenomenon of such a dynastic aspect to political representation in 26 county politics is amply demonstrated in the case of Beverly and her father Pádraig. The clientelistic character of this is expressed in the common compliant that Castlebar in Mayo has lost out for the past 15 years, since Da Flynn was in office, through not having a representative in cabinet. The ‘excellent road network . . . modern Garda station and library’ are all testament to his good works.
The ‘Flynnasty’ however seems to take all
this a little too far. Beverly may live in a townland called Windsor,
live in a grand house with turrets and electronic gates - sometimes called
‘Windsor Castle’, and be known to some as ‘the Duchess of
Well it is a Republic of sorts. And the sort of Republic it is is well illustrated by Ahern’s latest manoeuvrings. For it is his actions that are most significant. Having won an election against a background of corruption, against an opposition so anaemic part of it now sits beside him while he engages in this latest outrageous affront, he now pursues actions designed to inure the population to further scandal. His election victory explodes the lie that all the corruption revealed by the Tribunals is about history that will not be repeated. It allows him to openly patronise the corrupt where previously the corrupt hid their misdeeds. It demoralises because it teaches that you do not even have to say sorry. Most important it says to everyone that entertains some sort of opposition to the existing rotten republic that Ahern can get away with the outrageous. The outrageous could happen to you.
We are all familiar with the aphorism fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Something similar now applies. In the eighties corruption was wrong and it was hidden. Now in 2007, through the Tribunals, corruption is exposed and it is promoted. As one Fianna Fail source said, Beverly Flynn has received ‘the ultimate sanction – the support of the people of Mayo.’
There exists, however, another tradition,
both in Mayo and in Ireland. It is evidenced by five local men who
have endured real sacrifices that Beverly Flynn can’t even imagine in her
egotistical lamentations of victimhood. It is a tradition that once
made the demand for a Republic a progressive one and is expressed today
in the struggle against the rapacious demands of an oil multinational.
If two traditions can stand out in the local politics of Mayo it is the
job of socialists to stand another up on the national scale against the
rottenness of State corruption. We are again brought back to learning
the lessons of the election that has allowed Bertie Ahern to get away with