Michael Martin & Enterprise Ireland

Stung by criticism from the Sunday Times about the lack of activity on this site, I’ve determined to post at least one update a week for the foreseeable future 🙂

John Burns makes a number of good points in that article about the many false starts there have been in Irish blogging, and there is no doubt that the art of blogging has not fully matured here as yet.

Mainstream journalism does not perceive it as providing a significant threat and it is hard to recall any serious story ever broken online, until thestory.ie came along and changed the terms of the Irish blog.

Ironically, around the time I started in journalism, there was also an interesting “muck-raking” website called Cogair, which printed various stories about Irish public and political figures.

Unfortunately, it did not necessarily subscribe to the same standards of truth and accuracy as The Story, and a lot of what appeared was simply the idle tittle-tattle that regularly circulates amongst journalists.

We have all heard these stories over the years: the ones about politicians beating their wives, or a certain celebrity’s wife finding him in bed with another certain male celebrity.

These stories always have one thing in common, a friend of a relative’s friend’s mother’s brother has confirmed the story and they are absolutely certain about it because they were there.

These stories are not true and the only thing that gives them currency is journalists repeating them to each other and their friends.

Anyway, back to the business of the day, I wrote some time ago about how I had tried to get access to travel costs for Minister Michael Martin during a period he served at the Dept of Enterprise.

After much ado and a fee, the Department came back to us with no information and effectively told us Enterprise Ireland and the IDA had paid for almost all of his overseas travel.

I’ve received the relevant documentation from Enterprise Ireland and the figures involved are significant.

The IDA are looking for close to E400 for similar information and in the current environment of “expenses fatigue”, I don’t think we will be proceeding with the request.

For what it’s worth, here are the Enterprise Ireland figures and you could probably double them as the IDA were also involved in a similar amount of trips.

Enterprise Ireland 2006-2007

On another note, Vincent Browne made some interesting points about the political lobby and whether they became too close to politicans.

Harry McGee wrote a withering response to this on his blog over at the Irish Times but strangely elected to chose the example of John O’Donoghue as one where political correspondents had elected to “bite the hand that feeds it”.

Quite aside from the fact that the story did not emanate from the political lobby, some members of that group hardly covered themselves in glory in the saga.

Anybody who followed the story from the beginning would remember many instances where John O’Donoghue was defended as a very decent man and an excellent Ceann Comhairle by members of the Fourth Estate.

Of even bigger concern, the day after O’Donoghue elected to release his expenses as Ceann Comhairle [two hours after they were released under FOI] RTE gave him a clean bill of health and declared the story all but over.

On that bulletin, the newsreader asked – in all seriousness – if other politicians would now follow John O’Donoghue’s example in the interests of openness and transparency.

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