As predicted yesterday, Enda Kenny had the opposition's political blowtorch applied to his arse in the Dail and after three hours of intense questioning, he staggered out of there bruised but not broken.
When the shit really hits the fan the first refuge of the political scoundrel is always a tribunal of inquiry and that's what the Mayo Moron jumped at. "Mr Kenny said that, as far as he is concerned, the Government was very anxious to decide in principle to have a tribunal which would be fair to everybody and draft terms of reference that will allow the tribunal to do its work." The essential ingredient in that quote is the, 'draft terms of reference.'
For the uninitiated, the draft terms of reference will outline the scope of the inquiry and that's critical for a politician's survival. He was on radio yesterday setting the stage for it by stating firmly that this was an internal row among the Gardai and the job of the tribunal therefore would be to discover if there was a smear campaign conducted by senior Gardai against Maurice McCabe.
That's a big part of it certainly but if that becomes the actual sole scope of the inquiry then neither Tusla's Ms Zappone, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald nor even Enda himself can play any part in it because politicians will be beyond the 'scope' of the 'draft terms of reference.' He's a slippery eel Kenny, isn't he? And the cute hoor wants those 'draft terms of reference.' nailed down quickly. “I hope that that can be concluded within the next 48 hours and that it can go through both the Dáil and the Seanad in order to let that commission and tribunal of inquiry get on with its work,” said Mr Kenny. In english that means, "I want to start them down the wrong road immediately before anyone spots what I'm up to and then wish them a bon voyage on their futile journey."
So this means that in terms of political expediency, it will be Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan who is eventually thrown to the wolves. I suspect that poor little Nóirín was as shocked as anybody when she was given the big job and you can bet your ass she felt a strong debt of gratitude to Kenny and his gang of blue shirts. Now though she becomes the main focus and central plank of this proposed inquiry Politically, nobody can afford to shaft poor Maurice McCabe again, the public would go crazy. So senior heads in the Gardai must roll as a result of the inquiry and that must mean Nóirín.
But lest you think the draft terms of reference ruse is a stroke of genius by Kenny, it has been used loads of times in this country and it is the first port of call for the politician found up to his tits in corruption. Think Haughey and Ahern. Once the desired draft terms of reference are in place the inquiry is going nowhere. There'll be the odd whiff of political embarrassment of course as unexpected statements from unusual sources are made, but nothing that could end a political career.
The "scope" will make sure it excludes everything the masters don't want discussed or known and senior civil servants drafting it will ensure that. Peter Charleton, who'll chair the charade, will discover that, 'You can't ask that,' and 'It's beyond the scope of the inquiry to call that witness,' and "Activities on that date cannot be discussed,' because that's how these things are done.
Instead, the Blue Glue will be invited to wash their dirty linen in public. Then after twelve to eighteen months of our legal bigwigs stuffing their pockets with taxpayers money, Nóirín will be found to have acted inappropriately. But inappropriate is far different to guilty so the sacrificial lamb will be, 'Invited to consider her position.' The invitation will come with two choices – brazen it out and you'll get the boot without that fat pension or, resign now on full pension and your name cleared.
And the public will be told that justice was done – watch this space!