His legacy is...mixed. Personally I detest the man and the party he rode in on. Others love him and I have seen wonderful comments suggesting he was driven out by a class-based conspiracy as posh lawyers and meeja types don't like the common man. I ask, how common a man spends 60k a year on makeup?
Undoubtedly, there were successes during his tenure. The Irish economy is in much better shape than it was, and he's leaving before it crashes. However, how much credit for that can he really take? Global boom, EU structural funding are both outside his control. Low corporation taxes were inside his control, but that was a policy of his coalition partner. Everyone is better off, certainly. More people have jobs, more money. But comparing it to where I now live, the tax rate is nearly double, and public transport infrastructure and the health service in particular are often poorer than in borderline EU countries such as Lithuania. More people who have jobs are below the poverty line than ever before. Praise the good, certainly, but remembering to also criticise the bad doesn't make you a begrudger.
Regarding accusations of corruption, I have heard lots of different views, from 'sure it is only a few grand', summing up everything I find wrong with a certain Irish mentality, to 'innocent until proven guilty' which as a sentiment I fully agree with, except it is within his hands to cooperate with the tribunal to do this and instead he seeks to block it, and suffers from the most terrible memory lapses. When he says in his resignation speech "I have always placed the interests of the Irish people above my own", unlike his spritual predecessor, Haughey, I'm inclined to think he believes it. However, I'm also inclined to think he probably did look after his own interests rather comfortably along the way in a manner less than appropriate. As Haughey himself said of Ahern, he is "the most skillful, most devious, most cunning."
I do not begrudge him the peace process work however. Simply for being the first Fianna Fail party leader to not be an utter arse wrt. the views of the Unionist community and to go for cooperation rather than domination is praiseworthy. If only he could have combined that with the scruples of a Sean Lemass or a Jack Lynch would he be worthy of the bulk of the praise being lavished upon him.
I'm glad he's gone but I won't be returning to the country he and his predecessors used so ill anytime soon.
|< Dear Arrogant Apple Bastards | Old school, yo. >|