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I've got enough evidence on my tormentors to ruin all of them; LAWLOR REVENGE THREAT TD'S VOW AS HE GOES TO JAIL TODAY.

Byline: NICK SOMMERLAD

THE worst case of Flood damage in recent days affected not those unfortunates swept out of their homes by rising rivers but the reputation of Liam Lawlor.

Lawlor came up against Mr Justice word-Smyth, having the poet Dryden quoted to him and a part of the book thrown at him (he could have gone down for another six weeks).

Mr Justice Smyth was obviously underwhelmed by the definition of the law which Lawlor has apparently picked up from literature - that of Mr Bumble in Oliver Twist who opined that: "The law is a ass - a idiot."

Now Lawlor knows that the law is not a ass - but neither is Lawlor "a idiot".

He has behaved in a thick and insensitive manner which has shown disregard for both the wishes of the Flood Tribunal and public opinion.

His behaviour has been so extraordinary that all sorts of people with little interest in politics or the news of the day are stopping each other in shops and pubs and on the pavement to ask: "What's going on? What's behind all this?"

One answer is, of course, that following the fall of Cromwell's regime the people of England under King Charles II went through what is known in the history books as the Restoration period.

In Ireland now, following the fall of his Royal Highness Charles of Kinsealy, we are going through a period of Retribution, if not Restitution.

But the more serious question is not answered by that response, accurate though it is to a degree.

To a far more pressing extent the question remains: Why is Lawlor doing all this?

Generally regarded as Mr Big in certain fields of public politics, he now wishes to avoid attention being focused on his activities in the world of property development, re-zoning and building.

But is there in fact an even Mr Bigger lurking in the shadows?

The plain man observing Lawlor's gyrations of recent times can only scratch his head and wonder if he is being played by someone else.

Lawlor is putting his unfortunate family through the most awful publicity. His own reputation is in shreds. Surely he is not doing this out of sheer pig-headedness?

If there is a Mr Bigger, who is he? And where is he?

Is he to be found, as some rumours suggest, in the crim-inal underworld?

Does he exist in the political sphere? Or does he exist in the construction industry? Or maybe meat?

We've had some curious glimpses into Lawlor's life. What, for example, was an Irish politician doing with an office in eastern Europe, described in the media as looking less like a place of business than the sort of dead letter box one finds in espionage novels?

In the middle of last month the Council of Europe's de facto anti-corruption body, GET, conducted a high-level investigation into corruption in Ireland and came to the conclusion there may be far more of it here than the government is presently letting on.

Council of Europe reports are normally written in such cautious language that the officials find it hard to adjudicate between making a straight comment on whether the day is wet or sunny.

But in the GET report the bureaucrats threw circum- locution to the wind and said bluntly that there may be links between organised crime and corrupt public officials.

They said the high-profile cases we have recently witnessed may be only the tip of the iceberg.

And they recommended there should be Garda investigations into some of the more serious allegations of corruption now before a tribunal.

Generally, a reading of GET's 40-page Evaluation Report on Ireland did not support the long-held belief that Ireland is a land of saints and scholars.

I certainly support the report's contentions that the state should be far more pro-active in investigating corruption and abandon the practice of only checking when the bad news has hit the headlines.

There is no suggestion that Lawlor's activities might have given GET cause for concern or that anything he has done would ever come within GET's ambit.

What I am emphatically saying is that Lawlor's monumental and expensive legal rearguard action is raising more questions than it is providing answers.

Who or what is being hidden? I do at least share GET's concern that what we have learned so far, disturbing as it is, may only be a tip of an iceberg.

CAPTION(S):

MODERN: Medium security Wheatfield Prison near Clondalkin; GOING DOWN; Lawlor is heading back behind bars today to serve a 28-day term for contempt of court
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2002
Words:763
Previous Article:Irish Mirror Comment: Thank eu lord.
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