Irish Times
28 Mar 2012

SEANAD: A LABOUR Senator asked whether it was appropriate that the portraits of politicians who had been “found culpable of corruption, of abuse of power, abuses of privilege and, indeed, perjury,” should still hang in Leinster House.

James Heffernan said the portraits of former taoisigh occupied a privileged position in the seat of parliament. Schoolchildren and other visiting groups saw them and heard talk of “these great men”. He thought the time had probably come to begin a clean- out of some of these portraits.

“These people have stained political life in Ireland and I think it’s time they were wiped from our memory,” Mr Heffernan said.

Mary Moran (Lab) agreed the walls of “this great house” should be adorned only by people who had shown excellent example and had been great role models.

Michael Mullins (FG) said it was ironic the politician who had been central to the Mahon inquiry was in Nigeria, “of all places, as we speak, the second-most corrupt country in the world, telling the people how to run their business”.

Jim Darcy (FG) agreed with David Cullinane (SF) that no one in politics could afford to take the high moral ground in the wake of the Mahon findings. However, there was something surreal about the presence of a “compromised” former taoiseach in Nigeria, lecturing to the people there.

Seanad leader Maurice Cummins hoped some mechanism could be found to stop pension payments to any politician adjudged to have been corrupt.

Denis Landy (Lab), criticising the manner in which the household charge was being levied, said the memory of the sheriff and the battering ram was still in the memories of Irish people, and as long as he was a member of the House he would not stand for anybody bringing this threatening fashion of collection of money. He condemned it outright.