A nation of vicious, vindictive abusers and gossip-mongers

In her weekly column Ailin Quinlan says it was a mind-set that helped to publicly crucify Maurice McCabe.
A nation of vicious, vindictive abusers and gossip-mongers
Sgt. Maurice McCabe and his wife Lorraine photographed at their home in Mount Nugent on the Cavan/Meath border. Photo:Barry Cronin.

HOW shocking and distressing it is that trusted state organisations seemed to have turned their guns with such determination on one honest, courageous man.

How much worse when you accept, as we really must, now, that it was not actually an organisation, but a mind-set that helped to publicly crucify that man.
The Irish mind-set.
It was of no comfort that Sinn Fein tabled a motion of no-confidence in the government over its handling of the public crucifixion of Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe.
Whether or not, as Enda Kenny said, this was nothing more than political opportunism on the part of Sinn Fein, pointing the finger at this particular government, or at the gardai, the HSE or Tusla is only acknowledging part of the story.
If Enda Kenny’s head does end up on the platter; if this government does fall and we do, as predicted, have a snap election, it won’t address the issue beneath the whole disgusting saga; a very common, and a very deep and disturbing mind-set.
All too often, we, the Irish, don’t like people who take pride in the job they’re paid to do, and who make a point of doing things well. We can’t bloody stand them. They annoy the living hell out of us. They show us for what we are.
Too many of us use our status to impress family, friends and superiors by showing off what our status entitles us to do, for example, by demonstrating that we have the power to have their penalty points quashed.
And we take it very, very personally when a fellow worker and a good man calls us to order.
A man who takes pride in the job he’s paid to do, and who, on seeing us blatantly abusing the system to show off to people we want to impress, courageously stands up and reports it.
That does it, we say, utterly outraged that someone has had the temerity to call us on our dishonest behavour.
We vindictively set out to intimidate him. We visit him at home. We stop him having access to a computer system which confirms his suspicions about our abuse of the penalty points system.
That’s not a government or a state organisation.
That’s a mind-set.
And it’s a very common mind-set. It’s a mind-set that led to the long years of intimidation, abuse and bullying of Maurice McCabe and to the levelling of sexual abuse allegations against him.
It’s a mind-set which behaves like a bunch of lobsters in lobster pot. It’s a mind-set which will not rest until the lobster who tries to climb out of our pot is dragged right back in again.
As Maurice and his wife Lorraine recently declared:
“We have endured eight years of great suffering, private nightmare, public defamation and state vilification, arising solely from the determination of Maurice to ensure that the Garda Siochana adheres to decent and appropriate standards of policing in its dealings with the Irish people," they said, adding that their personal lives and family life - including the lives of their five children - had been "systematically attacked" in a number of ways by State agencies.
It’s alleged that an orchestrated smear campaign attempted to bring down Maurice McCabe, a man who, instead of ending up “destroyed,” should have been celebrated as a glowing example of what a public servant and a garda should be.
That he wasn’t, that he was instead harassed and pursued and intimidated and ostracised, eventually even ending up with false allegations of child sexual abuse against him, should make us look deeply at the Irish attitude to work and not just point to the state agencies and the government which so completely failed to manage the case.
It’ll be a real pity if the government falls, because that will shift the focus, and the attention, in the completely wrong direction.
Yes, the Garda Siochana, Tusla, the government and the HSE should shoulder the blame for the way Maurice McCabe has been intimidated and subjected to the most extreme mental, psychological and emotional torture since the day he first stood up to blow the whistle on the abuse of the penalty points system.
But remember this:
Our government parties are little more than a reflection of the people who elected them. Us.
We are the people who put the TDs in their seats. The TDs came out of our ranks. So did our Ministers. We are the people who make up the ranks of the Garda Siochana, Tusla and the HSE.
The government, the Garda Siochana, Tusla and the HSE  are, at the end of the day, us and only us; our brothers, our sisters, our parents, our relatives, our friends, our colleagues and our neighbours.
So it is the culture of a dishonest and self-righteous mind-set which is most to blame for the martyrdom of Maurice McCabe. We crucified Maurice McCabe, not just a handful of state agencies and the incompetent government we’re all so busy pointing the finger at now that the chickens have come home to roost.
The Maurice McCabe affair has shown us as a nation, as a group, as a culture and as a mind-set to be little more than a gang of vicious, vindictive abusers and gossip-mongers.
Unfortunately, if it is proved that, as alleged, and as is very widely suspected, there was an orchestrated smear campaign against this man, and even if somebody’s paw-prints are all over this, you’ll find that eventually, nobody will be found to blame for a very serious attempted character assassination.
Luke Ming Flanagan is the only one in politics who, to my mind, has so far said anything really meaningful.
Luke Ming Flanagan said Maurice McCabe should be appointed Garda Commissioner.
He’s right.
We need people like Maurice McCabe to root out the gombeen mind-set which seems to flourish with such insouciance, not just in certain state agencies, but all throughout this banana republic.
Instead, what do we do?
We crucify them.

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