I will speak about my experience and how I became involved in politics. As a young man I helped the local rugby club by cutting the grass on my tractor and I helped the local GAA club by loaning them a chainsaw. My mother used to say that I was always more likely to give someone else a hand than to do the work at home. This is how I became involved in politics, by an involvement in the local community and in the GAA and rugby clubs. It is sad to note that as a result of my election to the local council and subsequently to the Dáil I am tainted by association as a result of the findings of the Mahon tribunal. People in the street ask me how many brown envelopes I have received. I am hurt by this insinuation. I am told on the doorsteps that we are all the same and this hurts me. I am one of a new breed of politicians who have been elected to this Dáil and we have no association with the corruption in which certain members of various parties partook.
The Mahon tribunal report signalled the identity of individuals who have tainted new politicians – like me. We are different. We were elected because we are part and parcel of a community and our only interest is being involved in and helping that community. We have no interest in any financial gain to be got from anything other than our hard work. We want to talk and listen to people. The abuse of the system need not always be great. It need not always be €50,000 in a brown envelope or an alleged €10,000 gambling bet on a horse in Cartmel, or places like it. It can be small – such as ink cartridges. We must all take responsibility for actions taken in the Dáil.
In the corruption perception index of 2011 Ireland is not judged to be a corrupt country but is on a par with Belgium and the United Kingdom. There was a photograph in The Irish Times yesterday of our former Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, who was in a country ranked No. 143. I wonder what advice he was giving those people as to the direction they should take.