Chan eil e fhathast soilleir dè chaidh ceàrr le cùmhnant nan aiseag, le Murray MacLeòid
Bha dùil gun robh sinn a’ dol a dh’fhaighinn co-dhiù beagan de shoilleireachadh air na thachair le cùmhnant nan aiseag aig gàrradh MhicFhearghais, ach ‘s ann a tha barrachd cheistean air èirigh na tha freagairtean air a thighinn.
Chan fhacas mòran dheth bhon a bha e mhinistear còmhdhail agus gun robh aige ri dhreuchd fhàgail ri linn ‘s gun do chuir e teachdaireachdan fòn mì-fhreagarrach gu deugaire. Bha sin bho chionn dà bhliadhna.
Bha a h-uile coltas ann gun robhas a’ cur a’ choire air-san airson a’ chùmhnant, ach bha sin a-riamh a’ faireachdainn beagan ro fhruasta ‘s gun sgeul air a-nis.
Ged a bha aire mhòr air dè bha e a’ dol a ràdh ris a’ chomataidh, cha tug na thuirt e sinn càil nas fhaide air adhart a thaobh tuigsinn carson dìreach a chaidh an cùmhnant a thoirt seachad gun dìon ceart.
‘S e an duan a bh’ aige-san, ann an facal no dhà, gun robh e ri choireachadh… agus nach robh. B’ e a bha na mhinistear le uallach air a shon ceart gu leòr, ach bha e air saor-làithean nuair a chaidh an cùmhnant aontachadh gu foirmeil agus chaidh sin a dhèanamh le Cè Mac'IlleDhuinn a bha os a chionn.
Bha e a’ gabhail a’ choire airson pàirt dhen “iomadach” rud a chaidh ceàrr, ach cha robh “a h-uile càil a’ laighe” na làmhan. ‘S tha sin a’ togail na ceist: cò eile air an robh coire ma-thà. Cha robh e deònach sin a fhreagairt.
Cuimhnich air Eanraig Mac a’ Ghiollsa, fear a leig dheth a dhreuchd mar Phrìomh Mhinistear ri linn ‘s nach do chlàr e gu ceart gun robh e air pàirt dhen oifis aige a chur a-mach air fo-chùmhnant – rud glè bheag an taca ri cùmhnant luach £300 millean a tha a’ coimhead coltach gun deach a thoirt seachad airson adhbharan poileataigich. Bu chòir cuimhneachadh cuideachd cò iad a bha a’ dèanamh an èigheach airson cur às do MhicGhiollsa na dhreuchd.
An uair sin, bha Daibhidh MacGillleEidich, fear a bha os cionn a’ Phàrtaidh Thòraidheach, agus a b’ fheudar seasamh sìos ri linn ‘s gun robh e a’ cleachdadh chosgaisean tacsi air gnothaichean pàrtaidh seach obair co-cheangailte ri sgìre na Pàrlamaid. A-rithist, b’ e mìlltean beag' a thàinig air an sporan phoblach ri linn, chan e na ceudan de mhilleanan.
Tha prionnsabal cudromach an sàs an seo – gum feum iadsan ann am beatha poblach iad fhèin a ghiùlan gu ceart – ach tha sin cuideachd a’ ciallachadh a bhith cunntasail nuair a thig rudan ceàrr, mar a thàinig cho mòr le cùmhnant MhicFheargais.
Mar a tha iomadach duine air a ràdh, nam biodh cùisean air an làimhseachadh cho leibideach ri seo anns an roinn phrìobhaidich ‘s fhada bho bhiodh cuideigin (no barrachd air aon neach) air a’ bhròg fhaighinn, ‘s cha bhiodh siud ann do leisgeul sam bith.
The appearance by disgraced former transport minister Derek Mackay at the public audit committee last week was eagerly awaited as it appeared he had been cited as the main individual responsible for signing off on a contract that did not carry the normal financial guarantees.
That always looked a bit too politically convenient: to lay the blame at the door of someone unlikely to make a return to public life any time soon after sending inappropriate messages to a teenager.
His stance at the committee was, to paraphrase: yes, he was to blame, and no, he wasn’t. He was transport minister but was on holiday when the decision was formally approved by his then boss, Keith Brown.
Mr Mackay said he took his “share” of the blame for “multiple failings”, but they “don’t all rest on me”. And that begs the obvious question of who else, then, was to blame, something on which he wasn’t prepared to elaborate.
The committee have now issued a summons to Nicola Sturgeon in a further attempt to get to the bottom of the whole sorry mess which has so far resulted in no single individual held accountable and conflicting denials between different civil servants, quango representatives, the man who was in charge of Ferguson’s, and politicians.
This is a set of affairs that will cost the public purse, at current estimates, £200 million more than it was supposed to for two new ferries five years behind schedule, with serious implications across the ageing CalMac fleet.
While there seems to be a clear determination for those ultimately responsible to avoid the public shame of accountability, cast your mind back to the early days of the Scottish Parliament and the “scandals” that surrounded the institution then.
Remember Henry McLeish. He was forced to resign as First Minister for not registering he had sublet part of his constituency office – a completely trifling matter in comparison to a £300 million contract which bears all the hallmarks of having been awarded for politically-motivated reasons. It might also be worth recalling who led the calls for his resignation.
Then there was David McLetchie, the former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, for using taxi expenses for party purposes rather than constituency matters. Again the bill to the public purse was a few thousand, not hundreds of millions.
In both cases there was an important principle at stake – that those in public life adhere to the highest standards of ethics – but that also stretches to accountability when things go wrong, which they have so spectacularly done in the Ferguson contract sham.
As many involved in industry have observed over these months, had anything like the level of incompetency and lack of due process occurred in the private sector, heads would have rolled a long time ago, and there would have been no truck with the mealy-mouthed excuses we are now being subjected to.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.