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The  article below is from 2004

Comment: 1989-A Year of Irish Corruption and Freedom

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March 15, 2004: Mr. Tom Gilmartin’s testimony at the Mahon Tribunal on Irish planning corruption has coincided with the announcement by the Minister of Justice Michael McDowell that the Government plans to hold a Constitutional Referendum to remove the automatic right of citizenship to individuals born in Ireland, to non-Irish parents.  Mr. Gilmartin, who was an Irish born UK building contractor seeking to develop projects in Dublin, has recounted how senior members of the Irish Government bamboozled him in 1989 into making corrupt payments in return for removing obstacles to the progress of the projects.  

1989 was another year when Irish emigrants to the United States took advantage of special visas that had been issued by the US Congress at the instigation of Irish American legislators and the Irish Government maintained its consular assistance in the US to Irish nationals who were working without visas. The Berlin Wall was dismantled and people could at last leave their countries without fear of being shot. Politicians in the West who had long called for the ending of Soviet domination of Eastern Europe soon turned their attention to controlling the influx of foreigners into their countries.  

While we need to control immigration to our now prosperous country, Mr. McDowell and his colleagues propose a Referendum on the citizenship issue while there is no political will to reform a system that continues to promote corruption. Many of us have forgotten our emigrant past and the victim cross we carried so long has been discarded. Before the Celtic Tiger period of prosperity, Irish politicians regularly lectured countries such as Germany on their obligations to help the poor countries on Europe’s periphery. The periphery has shifted eastwards and the tune has changed.

In fairness to the Department of Justice, its attitude to immigrants has not fundamentally changed. Although 20% of the Irish population emigrated to the UK in the 1950’s, the Department has long maintained a strict policy when dealing with ‘aliens’ from the non-English speaking world. When the Soviet airline Aeroflot had a stopover at Shannon Airport on its Moscow-Havana route, there were no rights of asylum available for escapees. There wasn’t even a pretence of a hearing. People were handed back to meet whatever fate awaited traitors.

Michael McDowell is the President of the Progressive Democrats, the junior partner in the current Irish Government. He has said in the past that his Party has a choice of being radical or redundant. There has been precious little radicalism beyond tackling the restrictive practices of taxi drivers- an easy target compared with wealthy vested interests. Now we have another easy target as we continue to slumber in a Rip van Winkleland.

 - Michael Hennigan

Our Comment feature has been incorporated in the:

The Finfacts Ireland News & Comment  Service from October 2004

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Archive

September 2004:

Ireland Tops Cash per Head Income Aid from European Union
Can Vincent Browne Shake Up a Cosy Irish Media?
Get an Education and Make Crime Pay

August 2004:

America: Celebrities, Politics and Money
Is Saudi Arabia on the Brink?
The Manchurian Candidate and the Evil Corporation
Darfur, the Media Loop and When News of Mass Killings is News

July 2004:

Incendiary Money Spinners: Fahrenheit 9/11 and President George W. Bush Assassination Novel Plot
Aer Lingus Management Buyout/MBO-A Contrarian View

UN Human Development Report 2004 and Ireland

Should Bertie Ahern Sack Mary Harney from the Irish Cabinet?

June 2004:

Senator Joseph McCarthy: The Implosion of an Irish American Demagogue
Irish Media-Caged or Paper Tigers?
The Celtic Tiger and Public Squalor in Modern Ireland
The Many Facets of Racism Part 1
The Many Facets of Racism Part 2

May 2004:

Balancing Frugality and Miserliness
The Gekko Doctrine-Fair Pay in an Age of Greed 
The Genesis of American Foreign Policy
In an Age of Cynicism: Trust me, I'm a Politician!

April 2004:

Dealing with Al Qaeda Terrorism
Employment Rights and Human Rights
The Opiate of the Masses
Prison of Culture-Japanese Hostages Get Icy Welcome Home 

March 2004:

The Irish Abuse of Power Tribunals
1989-A Year of Irish Corruption and Freedom
Iraq War and Embittered Tit-for-Tat
Irish Corruption and Morality: 'But sir, don't they all steal?'

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US Corporate Scandals and the Laws of Unintended Consequences
Self Interest - Common Interest Imbalances

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