Amidst all the pomp of Brian Cowen's elevation to taoiseach, the lovely parting gift that Bertie Ahern received might go unnoticed.
The High Court ruled in Mr. Ahern's favor. Thanks for eleven years, thanks for the economic stimulus, here's a token of our gratitude and esteem.
During the course of the Mahon Tribunal's inquiries into Mr. Ahern's financial dealings in the late '90's, he was asked about a few things that came up during the course of parliamentary proceedings in the Dail. Not so fast, claimed the taoiseach. I was babbling in the Oireachtas and you can't use any statements I made there. There's article 15.13 to consider.
How could anyone expect a politician, in the heat of debate, to be thinking about their words and whether or not they could swear under oath that what they said was true? Would a member be afraid to use trickery or obfuscation to win an opponent over to the other side? It isn't right that any of the hot air blown out of the building would be subject to inquiry by a sitting legal body. Even the framers of the Irish Constitution realized that much.
The High Court agrees with Bertie. What he said in the Dail about lodgements made to certain accounts was not fodder for the Mahon Tribunal.
Testimony given in the course of a tribunal hearing is said under oath. What is uttered in the Dail is, apparently, gibberish.