So he’s resigned. Sure isn’t it all the rage these days up in Leinster House.
He’s gone from department. Rightly. Doing so speedily and with dignity appears to have kept damage to the coalition to a minimum. Thus, unless the Greens gather some more evidence to put foundations beneath their suspicions of the identity of The Leaker [maybe ‘The Leeker’, would better in this instance?], this ‘scandal’ looks set to peter out by mid-day tomorrow.
Kevin Doyle of the Herald “wouldn’t confirm either way” where the leak came from when asked if it was Fianna Fáil by Prime Time. You’d have to wonder. Sargent was done in by someone.
Really, the revealations do more to illustrate Sargent’s stupidity and naivety than expose some massive hidden trait of corruption.
I doubt more than half the TDs in the House can honestly claim not to have contacted a Garda to “enquire” about a constituent’s case at some time. Prehaps not so many done so in a tone similar to Sargent’s, but he is certainly not alone. Of course, I can’t back this up with more than what I’ve heard, in the main because An Garda can’t be FOI’d.
Usually the politicians are a little more “street-wise”. They call the relevent senior local officer instead of (deep breath) sending multiple letters by registered post on department-headed paper to low-ranking Gardas who are obviously going to bring it to their superiors to ensure their own backs are safe in case someone gets word of the correspondence in the future. It’s particularly bizarre when considering Sargent was most critical of Bobby Molloy back in the day for similar ‘transgressions’.
However, the above is in no way to be read that it’d be acceptable to for Sargent to have claimed “everybody does it, I was just caught, it’s no biggie”. I’m glad Sargent was caught. I’m glad he resigned. It was a corrupting act, an unlawful act. He has stained his reputation and will have to live with that. What’s really unfortunate is that we’re unlikely to catch the rest of them.
It’s worth noting that he’ll remain in his seat despite admiting commiting an unlawful act. I wonder if he’d have resigned had he’d been simply a TD, as opposed to minister of state. It does seem a position is something that can be lost, but a vote in the House? “Nah… keepin’ dah’.”
Still, I did raise an eyebrow when I heard some Opposition TDs moralising today. They’re not all at it, but he’s far from alone.