Reflections on Frank’s dealings with PAC

It is good to have Frank back on the airwaves, and stating his case for the first time. It has been a horrible few months, where both the members of PAC and a great many media people felt free to write anything they wished about him, and nobody was making any effort to provide balance or to present an alternative point of view. Some of the things that were written about Frank were ludicrous in their inaccuracy, even to such an extent that we occasionally got a good laugh at them. Like the Sunday newspaper that gave a list of all the property he was supposed to have. They listed four places in Galway. One of them is our old family home, which is in Frank’s name, but is where I am now living since I got suspended by the Vatican. I am very glad to have it, and appreciative of the generosity of Frank who helps out with the costs. The paper also mentioned another property in a place called Attymonbeg. Reading the way it was presented you would presume that he owned some very valuable property there. But the reality is that our parents had turbery rights in a bog there, which we haven’t cut since well before our father died in the nineteen seventies. It was also claimed by many commentators, and some members of PAC, that he was getting excessive amounts of money for lobbying politicians. But again I was aware that most of that was hard earned through his work with international disability groups. In the past years, since he retired as head of Rehab, I regularly had the experience of ringing his mobile and hearing the international ring. I would ask him where he was, and his work seemed to be bringing him to all corners of the world. He deserved to be well paid for it, and if the people who employed him did not think he was worth it, they could have got someone else to do the job.
One of the most amazing aspects of the whole experience was the fact that nobody in the political or media world raised any issue over the behaviour of certain members of PAC. What I could not understand was that people in power, and experienced commentators, thought it was appropriate that certain members of PAC regularly came on the mid-day news programmes rubbishing what was being said in the hearing, while the people were still inside being questioned. There was no way that was either fair or just. But no news presenter ever challenged what they were saying, or questioned if it was right for them to be there at all. I notice that some commentators are saying it now, but why did it take them so long?
The other thing that was blindingly obvious was that three individual members of PAC were on a major ego-trip, and didn’t seem to care what damage they were doing to the committee system in the Oireachtas, to various organisations, or to the good name of individuals. Now it is very clear that great damage has been done, and the consequences will be serious.
And finally, for me, there is the part played by Enda Kenny. We now know that PAC’s legal adviser, Melissa English, warned them last January that they were exceeding their remit — she is reported as saying that they had gone so far beyond it that it was only a little dot in the distance. One month later Kenny publicly called on Frank to go before them, and in so doing released a pack of hounds on him. Surely Kenny knew the legal advice that was being given, and still he publicly demanded that Frank go in. Extraordinary. Now that all of this has come out in the open, I am particularly waiting to see what Kenny has to say. And silence from him will not be enough.
Frank has done wonderful work over a long lifetime for both Rehab and Fine Gael. I am proud of his achievements, and none of the scurrilous stuff that has been written about him in the past few months will change that.