Monday 14 December 2015

Fintan O'Toole: Why the Irish vote for corruption

Councillors filmed by RTÉ seeking financial rewards for help with planning have been confident and combative since the broadcast. Why not? It could be an electoral asset.
In the local elections last year in Sligo the biggest vote for a single candidate in any one box was that for Michael Clarke in the McGee Memorial Hall booth, in Dromore.
It was a repeat performance. Clarke, standing as an Independent, easily topped the poll in the 2009 local elections, comfortably ahead of his fellow Sligo councillor Joe Queenan, who had a starring role in this week’s RTÉ investigation into standards in public office.
Clarke, a publican and auctioneer, is obviously something of a local hero. He is also a convicted fraudster. In 2002 he was sent to jail for two years for his part in a conspiracy to defraud the State of more than €100,000. A corrupt Department of Agriculture official was making out cheques to nonexistent farmers under a dairy-hygiene scheme. Clarke was collecting and cashing them. The scam was quite complex, with money orders being sent to fictitious payees at a number of guest houses in Co Sligo. 

Read this article here. 


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