Tuesday, December 13, 2005

McDowell leak to Irish independent

The latest revelation that the Minister for Justice gave a copy of the forged passport application, allegedly on behalf of Frank Connolly, to the Irish Independent leaves me stranded in a moral no-mans land.

I’m delighted that McDowell has been so robust in his regular assaults on Sinn Fein hypocrisy. These verbal assaults provide ample opportunity to witness “the devil citing scripture” as the Shinners demand the application of rules of fairness and law that they themselves have always felt free to ignore.

I fully support McDowell using the opportunity of Finian McGrath’s Dail question to “out” Frank Connolly. Connolly’s position as Executive Director of the Centre for Public Inquiry requires that he should be above any suspicion of active involvement in nefarious IRA activities.

However, a Minister for Justice selectively leaking documents to a friendly journalist must surely go beyond acceptable behaviour in a democracy. This compounded the earlier breach when the garda file appears to have been shown to Chuck Feeney of Atlantic Philanthropies.

While some justification for the “leaks” might be offered on the basis of the enormity of the implications arising if Frank Connolly did indeed go to Colombia in the company of a senior IRA bomb-maker, the precedent it sets opens up all sorts of “appalling vistas” for future behaviour.

Imagine a Fianna Fail/Sinn Fein coalition Government with a Sinn Fein Minister for Justice. What standards in public office might we expect from a party which still aspires to subvert the state. For all the Sinn Fein blather about their “democratic mandate”, people should not be fooled into thinking that it makes them a democratic party. It’s worth remembering that the Nazis came to power in a democratic election in 1933. Today that democratic mandate isn’t mentioned too often by historians.

McDowells’ actions have opened Pandora’s Box. He’s managed to cause terminal damage to Frank Connolly’s credibility while at the same time shooting himself in the foot.

Sadly, I believe it’s time for him to offer his resignation.

A bird-watching acquaintance assures me that Colombia is indeed a twitcher’s paradise. He is satisfied that the Colombia 3 could well have been in FARC-controlled territory on the entirely innocent basis as they and Catriona Ruane have always claimed. He’s planning a bird-watching trip to the same region himself and I’m now offering to help pay for the trip, on a one-way ticket basis.

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