Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Crime & Punishment

Galway’s longest serving councillor Michael 'Stroke' Fahy was in Castlerea jail last night, starting his 12-month sentence for defrauding the County Council by having a fence built around his property at public expense. He was also fined €75,000, even though he had fully re-imbursed the council and made an additional donation to a local charity.

The court had agreed to briefly defer serving the committal warrant in order to allow Cllr Fahy time to make arrangements for his 96-year old mother with whom he shares a home. He has been her sole carer, his duties include getting up during the night to bring heer to the toilet.

The day before he was due to be jailed, Cllr Fahy was rushed to hospital suffering from blood pressure difficulties and later had a stent inserted at University College Hospital in Galway.

On April 11, he was transferred to a nursing home in Clarenbridge where he was later joined as a patient by his elderly mother. He was due to be discharged from the nursing home tomorrow, but yesterday afternoon the gardai arrived at the nursing home and took Cllr Fahy to Castlerea Prison.

At the time of his conviction, I was delighted that finally a politician was going to spend some time behind bars for having his fingers in the till. Even his nickname seemed to confirm that he'd been at it for years. However, the actress Jeananne Crowley featured on RTE’s Liveline, making an appeal that his jail sentence be deferred until his 96-year old mother had passed away. The old lady had been taken into a hospice in anticipation of his incarceration. Jeananne pointed out that the old lady might well be dead before Fahy is released and that it's inhumane to deprive her of her son, carer and home at this very advanced stage of her life.

Dammit, he’s an ex-Fianna Failer and it galls me to say it, but I have to agree with Jeananne. And if Mother Fahy dies while her son is in prison, both of them will have been punished in a way that doesn’t seem like proportionate justice.

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