Frank and the Public Accounts Committee

I wish to briefly reflect on the experience of the past two weeks or so, since the question of my  brother Frank going before the Public Accounts Committee first came to prominence.

I have listened to politicians of all shades, led by the Taoiseach, and followed closely by the Tanaiste, and then by number members of all parties, calling on him to attend. Meanwhile the members of the PAC were on every possible media outlet, demanding that he come before them, and increasingly threatening all kinds of retribution if he failed to appear.  They even fulminated that he had insulted them by not attending, and they had no difficulty announcing to the nation all the many and various questions they wished to ask him. All the time I was acutely aware, and totally amazed, that the PAC had overlooked a very basic matter of courtesy, not to mention the much more important matter of justice, by not writing to him personally with a list of the issues they wished to discuss with him. As the matter proceeded it became more and more personalised around him, so to suggest that a general invitation to Rehab was sufficient seemed very strange to me.

While all this was going on, there was a media frenzy of a type that I have rarely experienced about any issue. Day after day, Frank was on headlines in print and broadcast media.  In particular the paper of record, the Irish Times, devoted enormous column inches, containing many insinuations, even bordering on direct allegations. That online word, ‘monstering’ often came to my mind about what was happening.  If Frank was scheduled to appear before a court of law, there is no possible way that the case could now be heard.

And still he waited for a proper communication, in writing, that would make it possible for him to give an appropriate response.  Now that the atmosphere around this issue has become so toxic, is it possible that anything useful can be achieved by a hearing at this stage? Can it possibly be anything other than highly politicised?

Today (Wednesday) the Tanaiste assured us that he had total confidence in the PAC to do its job.  After what I have witnessed in the last two week I’m afraid I will take a little more convincing.