THE IRISH INDEPENDENT is filling front pages with 1000 cuts of Deputy John McGuinness, an Irish politician who heads the most powerful committee in national government. From the newbites I've read, it sounds like a civil servant with an axe to grind has helped journalists cobble together a string of efficient Freedom of Information requests that raise issues every politician should answer.
The Irish Times gives a more balanced view of what's happening behind the scenes. In one article, the Indo spotlights an expensive office renovation without mentioning the incoming politicians don't decide on those kinds of things. Renovations happen whenever the governments change and as an occasional visitor to the office premises in question, I can attest to the worn carpet existing before the changes happened.
To cover a maternity break, Andrew McGuinness (son of the politician and a local councillor) was put on the government payroll and he capably handled constituency queries. I saw that happening because I raised several questions that Andrew handled. He also rang back with follow-up results after hours and he received overtime compensation for those hours of work.
The most recent Indo coverage centres on John McGuinness traveling on a St Patrick's Day visit to Washington State with his wife and using the public purse to pay for his wife's travel just like other politicians did at the time and still continue to do. While I don't agree with the public funding spousal travel, I do agree with Deputy McGuinness being allowed to pay back the government for her flights and accommodation--something he tried to do at the time.
You won't find opposition politicians on the Public Accounts Committee clamouring for the resignation of Deputy McGuinness based on these kinds of revelations in the Irish Independent because they know it is very easy to find the same kind of evidence on any national official who has served more than a decade. And you won't find anyone in the civil service pointing to the source of the information against John McGuinness because everyone respects the sacred nature of transparency in government because it fuels an effective Fourth Estate. Don't they?
[This blog post does not reflect the opinion of Bernie Goldbach's employer but it does fit into academic discussion arising from the Public Relations and Social Media modules taught at third level in Ireland.]