Corporate donations and Trevor Sargent.

25/10/2010
You may be aware of Trevor Sargent’s latest attempt to gloss over the reasons behind his decision to enter Government with Fianna Fail, interfere with the workings of An Garda Siochanna, resign a Ministry and finally attempt to ignore the fact that the main protagonists of the Carrickmines zoning in the 1990’s (now the subject of criminal prosecutions) were in fact card carrying members of Fianna Fail, his partners in Government.

For those of you who missed it, here is part of the press release from Mr. Sargent:
“Days of the corrupt politician are numbered – Ban on corporate donations will help clean up politics for good”…
Green Party TD for Dublin North and Justice spokesman Trevor Sargent has welcomed the latest progress in relation to investigations into the allegations that money was paid to politicians in return for land rezoning votes during the 1990s.
“There is still some way to go yet, but no person who either gave or received a corrupt payment should be let off the hook for their shameless disregard for sustainable planning and development.”
Deputy Sargent concluded: “It is for this very reason that the Green Party in Government is working to bring forward an immediate ban on corporate donations to political parties. This ban is not just in regard to Government parties either. It is common knowledge that both Labour and Fine Gael accept corporate donations to support the funding of their respective parties and their elections.”
This press release is disingenuous and very disappointing given that Deputy Sargent appears to believe that the electorate are completely naive and unaware that he is in fact a member of a coalition Government with Fianna Fail.   In his press release, Deputy Sargent seeks to omit references to the involvement of  the Green Party’s bed fellow, Fianna Fail in the criminal proceedings but he also attempts to gloss over the fact that banning Corporate Donations is not a solution to the difficulties in Irish politics. What we need is transparency.
We need a register of lobbyists, a threshold of donations after which all monies donated must become public knowledge and a movement away from the fallacy that somehow corporate donations are wrong or unduly influence decision making.
To borrow some information from Mark Coughlan, a reporter with “TheStory.ie”, “As the Council on Corruption in Europe (GRECO) has said time and again for the last eleven years – repeat, eleven years – all political parties should be forced to publish financial accounts. Ireland has been continuously criticised for not legislating for that by the Council. Just last January GRECO published a report on Ireland. In an usual move our own Standards in Public Office Commission explicitly stated the Government should implement the GRECO proposals.
The Government – led by Fianna Fáil, with whom the Greens are now in office, for the whole period – has ignored them consistently. GRECO does not recommend a ban on corporate donations.”
Politics in this country has reached a new low thanks to the headache of successive Fianna Fail led governments.  Now, thanks to Trevor and his Green colleagues, that headache will continue.  It may be more appropriate for Deputy Sargent to focus on his coalition partners, rather than political donations and to focus on the old adage ‘when you lay with rats you get fleas’.