Friday, January 8, 2010

So you think you've got "Troubles"?

The title of this post is a reference to a popular sitcom in the UK some years ago and I think it's rather appropriate to this particular news item.

If this was the case of three celebrities in a game of hanky-panky and irregular movements of money, the tabloids would be all over it; but most mainstream media would wisely avoid it as being unnewsworthy. In this case, it's not a celeb but -- a politician and it has has definitely gotten the attention of the MSM.

The short version is, the Premier of Northern Ireland as well as an MP in Westminster, Peter Robinson, is in hot water after it was reported by BBC Northern Ireland that his wife Iris' boyfriend Kirk McCambley, 39 years younger than she, got a license to open a restaurant after she solicited £50,000 in secret cash payments from businessmen for start-up money. Naturally, Mr. Robinson has denied any impropriety by him or his wife (also an MP) but has quickly called for an investigation to see if any rules were broken. The BBC implies they may have been because when Mr. Robinson found out and demanded his wife give back the money he failed to report the irregularity having taken place at all -- which itself is a violation of ministerial ethics.

The marital problems of the Robinsons have been the talk of Ulster the whole week, within both the Protestant and Catholic communities -- but last night's bombshell broadcast has thrown some rather unexpected turmoil into the peace process. I agree that one's personal life is his or her own business as long as politics or business doesn't get mixed in. But a blatant conflict of interest of this level is not just highly inappropriate it is just sheer madness since it could, in some instances, be even seen as sexual harassment although it is the one who got the benefit who's the one really in trouble -- in other words, the usual victim / perpetrator paradigm is reversed. It also sends the signal that one can get his or her way, just as long as one knows who to sleep with.
Maybe it's because the North is generally more religious than the rest of the UK (for example, abortion while legal in the North is still much more difficult to get than on the Mainland) that this has raised the ire of so many. Or maybe it's because the money in question should have been reported but wasn't. No matter how one cuts it, it is quite pathetic that this still goes on. I suspect that this is one case isolated from the thousands we never hear about -- but wind up paying for through higher prices and taxes when none of us were responsible for the fault in the first place. Far as I'm concerned, the "Troubles" shouldn't start up again because of the troubles of a few. It wasn't the people that made the woman cheat.

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