Home Features MacKenna On Monday: Blame Must Also Lie With Those That Supported John Delaney

MacKenna On Monday: Blame Must Also Lie With Those That Supported John Delaney

Picture the scene.

Better again, consider the mindset.

Last Tuesday night, three of our elected representatives made their way to the Dáil for a vote of no confidence in housing minister Eoghan Murphy. If they walked there, then they’d have stepped over the human waste and people sitting in the cold, looking for enough merely to eat. If they drove, then they’d have whizzed past a blur of bodies on the freezing pavement trying to get to some sleep.

The anecdotal is stomach-churning, and in this case, so is the empirical.

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Figures from as recently as late summer show that 6,490 adults and 3,848 children were without a house. That’s 10,275 long since stripped of dignity and reduced to genuine survival. For two-a-half-years, Murphy – a privately educated schoolboy, with degrees from UCD and King’s College, and who spent time working in Geneva – has been in the brief as numbers rise.

Metaphorically his life was on the line, only in a different way to those he’s supposed to save.

That line, as it turned out, was given by these three independent TDs who in supporting the government will have been promised that little bit extra to hand out back locally. Not for any greater good, mind you, but entirely for self-preservation and to make sure they stay popular.

Each will have left after their victorious vote – essentially saying they’ve confidence in a massive ongoing failure – and racked up the mileage and expenses passing over the same people left to rot way. And yet…come the next election that’s likely in May, the people of Tipperary-North will reward Michael Lowry, the people of Galway-West will reward Noel Grealish, and the people of Roscommon-South Leitrim will reward Denis Naughten by sending them back for more.

In a nation where so many rightly get angsty about Sinn Féin, Mé Féin is really where it’s at.

Republic of Ireland Press Conference, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 25/11/2018 Newly appointed Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy alongside FAI Chief Executive John Delaney Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

In recent times and particularly in recent days, many ask how John Delaney did what he did for so long, and so brashly in front of the country too? Well read back and you have your answer.

For the methodology of the trio above is the same as his, and none is in any way new. What those in the Dáil did and so many others do is so very similar to what he did in a sports sphere. Just as the boys bought and buy idiocy with idiocy’s own money, Delaney did too.

They are far from alone. The only ones who arguably did it better are the Healy-Raes who have developed a motorway-type road network around the Kilgarvan area, and it was little wonder that Michael Healy-Rae at the start of the year was promising a disgraced FAI leader the mother of all welcomes any time he came to Kerry. Greed was recognising and admiring perfect greed.

These are the winners in our country. However, remember that local and small politics can only be all politics when the minds of the electorate are sufficiently local and small too.

* * *

For many, the cause of the collapse in Irish soccer was like prime-time viewing.

Ever switch on a news network during some far-away natural disaster and, while you shouldn’t be fascinated, it still feeds that animalistic urge to the point you cannot change the channel?

This was similar.

The company credit cards pulling wheelbarrow loads of cash from holes in walls. The rent taken care of in a house owned by a television star. The luxury shirts in duty-free. The limos to and from first-class flights. The French castles and free junkets for him and the in-laws. The expensive dinners and five-star jet-setting with the arm candy. The €60,000 spent on a birthday party.

Where would this go next? Don’t dare go for that remote control.

That was the cause though and after the giddy fun and enjoyment in seeing the fall of a tyrant, we are suddenly left with the effect. After all, that money was meant for soccer. It’s now gone.

These are the early stages of a regression, and remember that it’s now a step back from the poor structures Delaney and those around him put in place. The first realisation for many was seeing that under-20 side, teeming with so much pride and potential, having to fly around the continent to get to a crucial qualifier in Armenia because it was cheaper. That’s small beer beside what comes next. For instance on Friday when the Football Association of Ireland finally opened the books it showed a deficit of close to €60m. For a place with limited and low income, that’s bankruptcy.

Mrs. Brown's Boys FAI Heart Care Programme Launch, FAI National Training Centre, Dublin 22/10/2018 FAI Chief Executive John Delaney Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

It’ll take generations to right this wrong and it’ll force great pain in many regards and in many areas. There’ll be jobs cut belonging to those who did no wrong in a toxic environment. UEFA want Irish soccer to go homeless and sell their stake in Lansdowne back to the IRFU. Three have stepped away and any who know marketing won’t touch sponsorship. That’s just the beginning.

For if you think the League of Ireland had it bad, if you think schoolboy soccer had it bad, if you think the women changing in toilets had it bad, they’ll soon be yearning for those olden days.

Who do you think is going to service that debt? John’s had his fun, now reach for your wallet.

How did it come to this you might lazily ask?

Well, we’ve been warning you for years.

The meat may not have been on the bone in terms of the scale of what frankly amounts to corruption, but everyone knew it was corrupt. Remember how, when Fran Rooney got the top job, and he asked the old committee men to write down what their actual role was, and he didn’t last long. Delaney learned from that, and by the time former council member and new head Paul Cooke tried to challenge his position by asking a question, he was so comfortable in his power he reprimanded him. This was public knowledge and most didn’t care. About any of it.

FAI AGM, Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath 27/7/2019  FAI President Donal Conway   Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

You might not like the media but you could at least read their facts. About his penchant for legal letters. About how he walked into the editor’s office of a national paper and demanded their soccer correspondent be put on social welfare for not toeing the line and if the editor did what was asked he’d get season tickets to Anfield. Even this publication was threatened with losing advertising from the FAI and its friends if it didn’t play it nice and safe around Delaney’s deceit.

But that wasn’t enough.

None of it was.

The rebel songs.

The shoeless stumbling.

The pissed up photos.

The bullying.

The increased personal wages while lay-offs abounded.

FAI Senior Council Press Conference, FAI HQ, Abbotstown, Dublin 25/10/2019 FAI Vice-President Paul Cooke and FAI President Donal Conway Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Most in Irish soccer didn’t actually care enough for their own real fans who were manhandled and stripped of belongings against the FAI’s own rules both home and abroad, as if a dictatorship. Even when the first inklings of the level of Delaney’s efforts broke earlier this year, when he showed up at Lansdowne for an international, photos emerged of those present climbing over each other to get a selfie. He may have been a disgusting human being but he was a celebrity.

They didn’t care because he gave them something. A handshake. A pint. Or, in terms of clubs and council members up and down the country, some under-14 friendly or a new set of dugouts. The Clare and District League actually suspended one of its members for six months from all activities for posting negatively about Delaney on social media. They were far from alone.

Bought and sold. With their own dime.

It was so easy.

It still is so easy.

Indeed so bad was it that had Delaney told these gombeens that jet fuel can’t melt steel beams they’d have jogged to their local record shop and picked up the Jim Corr collection.

Of course, this is tragic for those who will now be made redundant. It’s sad for some clubs who did no wrong and will be punished. It’s terrible for kids who’ll have their development stifled.

FAI Senior Council Press Conference, FAI HQ, Abbotstown, Dublin 25/10/2019 FAI Vice-President Paul Cooke Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

But if Delaney was a wolf – and he wasn’t all that impressive of one – he needed a huge flock of sheep. Just as in all our politics, we readily provided that blur of white for self and greedy gain. There’s a wonderful saying we’ve never so much as read clearly, never mind adhered to. A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.

Not in our corner of the world though. That’s beyond us.

You get what you deserve. Or in this case you’re about to.

No matter how vile, callous and heartless they may be, I’ve stopped blaming the likes of Lowry, Naughten and Grealish for their wicked ways. For the roots lie with those who vote for them.

In the same way you should do the same when it comes to John Delaney.

He got there and he stayed there because of the people that put him there and kept him there.

The next time your club is cutting back, rather than bring up his name, look a bit closer to home.

About Ewan MacKenna

One of the country's top sports journalists, and a recipient of Irish Sports Journalist of the Year.