Luke Ming Flanagan is no stranger to controversial stories. This week he hits us twice with tales of corruption, graft and even a death threat.
His first tale comes from journalist John Mulligan of the Roscommon Herald. It’s what the bould Ming calls an ‘expenses scandal’ and something to which we’ve probably become all to immune over the decades. In June last year Senator Terry Leyden wrote to Roscommon councillors:
‘Dear Councillor, please find below some additional conferences to my recent Summer Conference list circulated by post.’
He went on to list a number of events, identifying the ones that were free.
Councillors can go to these free conferences and still earn generous mileage and overnight expenses. Included in the list was one particular free event, to be hosted in Dublin by the International Humanitarian Law Round Table Discussion Group on the topic “Children in War – what does and should IHL have to say?”
‘A conference on ‘Children in War’ is about as relevant to the workings of Roscommon County Council as a seminar on supersonic flight, but this is not what this is about.
I would love to think that the primary focus of councillors was not self enrichment through the conference and expenses industry, but is the reality otherwise? The notion of public service seems as far removed from their thinking as I am from the back of the moon. Milking the system is despicable and insensitive at a time when ordinary people struggle to pay the local charges that fund this largesse.
Is the circulation of this list feeding this greed machine? It certainly does make a great case for the abolition of the Seanad. If this is what senators spends their time doing in Leinster House, then they are effectively working against the interests of the very people that they are supposed to .’
For the benefit of rabble readers a quick summary of Leyden’s career – Roscommon councillor for Fianna Fáil in the late 70’s he was elected to the Dáil where he was made junior minister in a couple of departments through the 80’s before successive, repeated failures to get re-elected saw him ‘selected’ for the soft spot in the Seanad. Absolutely no highlights in his career until in 2010 when he used Parliamentary Privilege to claim Fintan O’Toole had invoked a riot by speaking to a crowd about the bank bailout.
Ming also noted in a surprising revelation that he had received a death threat, one that he took seriously enough to involve local Gardaí. The odd threat was delivered in an envelope that contained a card stating that Deputy Flanagan had been “judged” and was “guilty” and which also contained a burnt match, piece of string and white feather. Seems legit. Ming said the guards were very professional, taking fingerprints, DNA and the whole CSI lark. He has received death threats before over his stance on smoking the herb.
Further to the interview he spoke about his recent outbursts on Garda corruption, claiming that over 80 people have contacted him about corruption including 26 former members of the shickolonees. The turf-burning emperor of Mongo has recently championed the plight of wronged bench-fellow Clare Daly when she was handcuffed and publicly humiliated by the boys in blue for having not enough drink to put her over the limit.
Between white feathers and political graft it’s starting to read like one of those Danish murder mysteries…and hey he’s already got the chunky sweater.