FIANNA Fáil members of Clare County Council mirrored the feelings of the rank and ﬁle of the soldiers of destiny when it emerged that the one-time popular general was to face a dishonourable discharge.
The majority said he had to go, more refused to comment publicly and more said he should remain, as he was not proven guilty of any crime in a court of law.
One of Clare’s most experienced county councillors, Cllr Bill Chambers (FF), said that nothing has been proven against the former Taoiseach yet. “If it is proved then fair enough, but all that there is is allegations.”
Describing the fallout of the Mahon Report as a media witch hunt against Bertie Ahern, the Cooraclare man said he “should be innocent until proven guilty”.
Prior to the former Fianna Fáil leader’s announcement that he was to resign from the party, Cllr Michael Hillery (FF) said, “If the information is correct and stands up with the DPP, he should be expelled. Anyone who has broken the law of the land should be expelled.”
For Cllr Pat Keane (FF), the decision was even more clear-cut: “He should (be expelled) when he has been found to lie to the tribunal. It is unbecoming of the party.”
“The leadership had to take a stand,” according to Cllr Pat Daly (FF).
For young councillor Cathal Crowe, who Bertie Ahern once described as the future of the party in Clare, there was no decision to be made – the former Taoiseach had to be removed from the party.
“It beholds someone in high elected ofﬁce to be truthful to his job. We have to have high standards in ofﬁce,” he said.
Cllr Pat McMahon said “absolutely” damage had been done and Bertie Ahern could no longer be a member of the Fianna Fáil party.
Cllr Tom McNamara (FF) was in agreement saying, “This type of politics is gone and it is no harm to see the back of it”. Councillors PJ Kelly (FF) and Michael Kelly (FF) were less forward with their opinions. Michael said he would not be commenting on the issue, while PJ had a slightly more colourful answer – “judge not and ye shall not be judged.” The Clare People was unable to make contact with councillors Richard Nagle and Pat Hayes (mayor) on the subject.
Almost all agreed the outcome of Mahon had a negative affect on the party in general, but Cllr Daly maintained that the outcome “had cleared the air. We can move on now”.
“It also damages the whole system. It shows corruption among ofﬁcials, councillors and right up to Leinster House. Fianna Fáil damaged again. It is a setback for the party’s ﬁght back,” said Cllr Crowe.
“We were damaged before this. Even though we were damaged, I think we can recover,” said a slightly more optimistic Cllr McNamara.
“There are a lot of good people in Fianna Fáil. The majority of people are disgusted. There is some shortterm damage to the party but the party will rise again,” said Cllr Keane.