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From: Rory Connor
8 February 2007

To: Professor Vincent Comerford ; Ronan Fanning ; Dr. Colum Kenny ; Daire Keogh ; Dermot Keogh; Dr. Eoin O'Sullivan       

Cc Editor Irish Times; Fintan O'Toole      



In November 1994 Albert Reynolds resigned as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) as a result of a fake sex scandal. It had been alleged that the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland Cardinal Cathal Daly had conspired with a Catholic Attorney General Harry Whelehan and with Opus Dei in order to delay the extradition of paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth.

There was no truth in the allegations (which were initiated by Democratic Left TD Pat Rabbitte). It was not a question of Cardinal Daly doing or saying something that gave rise to suspicion - even unjustified suspicion. The claims had no basis in fact at all. However they created panic in the Dail (Parliament) and members of the AGs office had to be recalled from all over the world to confirm that they had no knowledge of such a conspiracy.

So how did our leading liberal Fintan O’Toole treat this remarkable event? If the Chief Rabbi of Ireland had been the target of such a vicious slander we all know how Fintan would have reacted. However when the Catholic Church was the target things were entirely different. In one essay on the subject he wrote:

As Ireland has moved in recent decades from a largely rural and traditional society to a largely modern and urban one, the relationship of its people to power has changed. Quite simply, a young highly educated and largely urban population is not prepared to accept that the exercise of power in Ireland is none of its business.”

But of course!  (The Cultural Revolution in China also saw “young highly educated and largely urban” people abandoning all the norms of traditional morality in order to “exercise power” over their “largely rural and traditional” society. Making false sexual allegations against their elders was one of the methods they used).

The following extracts from another O’Toole essay indicate the kind of weasel logic he used in order to justify what he clearly knew to be lies. The logic amounts to little more than “If it’s on the telly it must be OK”. Fintan should apply for a place in Big Brother's house. He has a good chance of winning!

Rory Connor
8 February 2007

Making A Drama Out Of A Crisis [from “The Ex-Isle of Eireann”, March 1997]

(This piece was written in November 1994, at the end of the week in which Albert Reynolds lost office as Taoiseach).

…Even when the Brendan Smyth affair began to intrude on the argument, the precise details could still have remained abstruse. The processing, or rather non-processing, of extradition warrants, and the internal affairs of the Attorney General’s are not the stuff of national crisis, however vital the stories that lie behind them. Only because the Brendan Smyth affair came with built in television images did a serious issue of public policy become a national crisis….. [Television]  also allowed for a running commentary on the events that were part of the drama, the TDs and party leaders emerging onto the forecourt of Leinster House to express their ever increasing incredulity, the impact of the crisis washing up on the serene shores of the bishops’ meeting in Maynooth., the poignant glimpse of Albert Reynolds in his car on the Six-One News, telling us that “I’m never disappointed with life. I take life as it comes.

Even the early chaos of Wednesday morning was riveting. Pat Rabbitte filled the void with wild imaginings when he stood up to ask about a document that would rock the foundations of the State. Albert Reynolds seemed to add substance to the notion when he spoke of “a very serious matter” and promised the “full, full full” facts. Cardinal Daly appeared from Maynooth to scotch “absurd” rumours. ……..

The opening [television] shots came close to suggesting anarchy [in the Dail]. There was no Ceann Comhairle in the chair. Neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister for Justice was to be seen. The Government Chief Whip was moving around the opposition benches muttering into the ears of the other leaders. The Taoiseach arrived and added to the anarchy by telling the Dail that he could discover nothing about “a certain letter”. Someone from the Attorney General’s office was arriving in Frankfurt at 6.25. Someone else was lost on the west coast of America. California dreaming while the State twisted in the wind. Mary Harney asked why Marie Geoghegan Quinn was absent. Albert Reynolds insisted that “I am not in the business of hiding anything or covering up.” But what was supposed to be under the non-existent cover?  What was the colour of the dog that wasn’t barking?

We were left dangling over the precipice. And in such a state, any revelation, anything that would give substance to the products of our imagination, would have extraordinary force. In ordinary circumstances, the news that the Taoiseach had failed to mention an obscure extradition case in a speech to the Dail would fall into the category of noises off. But because the stage was set for its entrance in a great and epic drama, it carried the force of revelation. The mortified look on the face of Bertie Ahern, sitting beside his leader, gave visual immediacy to an admission whose actual substance was hard to fathom.

[COMMENT:  Labour Party leader Dick Spring claimed that Albert Reynolds had failed to mention the existence of a precedent for the extradition of Brendan Smyth - this was the “Duggan case”.  The “precedent” was in fact bogus - like Rabbitte’s lie - and it is clear that O’Toole understands this. He performs his own cover-up of inconvenient truths].

And there was more. While John Bruton, Mary Harney and Prionsias de Rossa [leaders of Fine Gael, the PDs and Democratic Left] were putting shape on the confusion, another leading player was waiting in the wings with stunning new revelations. Dick Spring seemed to relish the role. He teased his audience by starting off with studied nonchalance, cracking jokes and smiling. Then he turned up the suspense by hinting at what he was going to say without revealing what it was: “I must outline the events of the last few hours.” By the time he unveiled his revelation that the Taoiseach knew about the new information before his speech on Tuesday, the reaction was audible, indeed almost tangible. A long ooh of exhalation rumbled beneath a high-pitched whistle of awe. The drama had reached the climax towards which it had moved with inexorable force.

Even some of those in the chamber, though, did not understand that a drama of this kind must end with a stage full of corpses. [Reynold’s friend] Brian Cowen still seemed to believe that what had happened belonged to the normal cut and thrust of parliamentary conflict, that it had not become a great national drama. When he went on Prime Time on Wednesday night with Prionsias de Rossa and Sean Barrett, he was like a character from another play altogether, a sad reprise of the last days of Charlie Haughey…….

He still thought, as he repeatedly and desperately insisted, that it was a technical legal point….an oversight… a totally unjustifiable reason not to continue with government.” Like the boy on the burning deck, he remained steadfast amidst the flames: “I defend my party and leader at all times”. But the ship was going down, and his wiser colleagues were swimming for dear life.

[COMMENT: Fintan O’Toole regards Brian Cowen’s adherence to the truth as quaint and old fashioned. The people who succumbed to lies and hysteria are seen as the wise ones by this great liberal pundit!].

Television had made the crisis public property and taken it well beyond the reach of such desperate defences. While we have become used to the idea that television has debased politics, this time it gave real substance to politics. [!!!]. There could be no closed circuits and no private arrangements. Just this once, we caught history on the hop and knew that we were on the same level as our rulers. We saw what they saw, shared their confusions, learned things as they learned them, gasped when they gasped and drew the same inevitable conclusions. Just this once, television allowed us to be players in the drama.

FINAL COMMENT: The reasoning may be idiotic but it gives us an insight into the mind of a "liberal" who is faced with a clearly evil act committed by one of his own and directed against people he dislikes.

Fintan O'Toole does not react by engaging in self-deception or hypocrisy. It might be better if he did. He simply supports lies against his enemies. The fact that the lies involve false allegations regarding the sexual abuse of children does not bother him at all.

Rory Connor
8 February 2007