(Originally published at Irishleftreview.org in February 2014)
The saga of the cancellation of penalty points and garda whistleblowing continues to be played out in the Irish public sphere. The latest chapters have been the appearance of Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and his subsequent behaviour there to questioning from the various public representatives in the committee His answers and their tone in front of the committee has since come under much scrutiny, along with his opposition to one of the whistleblowers appearing in front of the same committee in the following week. Said whistleblower, Sgt Maurice McCabe, did appear before the committee earlier this week, but in a private session behind closed doors. He has since stated that he hopes that the transcript of his appearance before the committee is made public, but the PAC has “received legal opinion strongly advising against publishing the transcript”. Most of the media coverage has focused on the above two incidents; both Commissioner Callinan’s and Sgt McCabe’s appearance in front of the PAC. Even though there has been some comment on Callinan’s attitude towards the PAC, none of it has linked this attitude to Irish politics more generally. His behaviour is simply a reflection of the decades of contemptuousness amongst the powerful in Irish society towards any accountability. We don’t need to dig too far into Irish history to in order to uncover such examples. In fact, another of the whistleblowers, Garda John Wilson, made this very point recently.