It's a messy spectacle for sure and the affair is being made to look embarrassing for Ireland and for Bertie.
In the past there have been so many genuinely evil wrongdoings and corruptions by the likes of Haughey and others. Hence many are mentally programmed to equating Bertie's situation to the same level. Although perhaps wrong by today's ethics, Bertie's aired mistakes are lightweight in comparison. He lives very humbly compared to Haughey's extravaganza. The donations/loans were from the time of his separation and it seems blatantly clear that friends and others were just trying to help him out in his separation difficulties. Marital separation is awful and also not an easy time financially for people of even respectable income. We agree it was ill advised but everyone tries to be tax efficient and clinically Bertie didn't break any law. On a scale of 1-10 of sharp practice and ethics it registers as a 2. I know we want our leaders to be spotless and to have a crystal clear vision of how future generations will view past practices, but I'm afraid there is no such person.
The main ugliness in my opinion has been the disrespect and sidestepping of the Tribunal as the correct place for analysis of Bertie's payment transactions. Bertie has been accomodating in handling the unallowed leaks in a public fashion - but in respect to his own privacy and the Tribunal he has been trying to stick to the most summary facts. This of course leads on to the media and the Opposition probing further and acting like a kangaroo court in public. This is no way to handle matters and is an innefficient and embarrasing mess as a result. It's highly unfair to the Taoiseach and not a scientific way to get answers. His willingness to make comments in public while attending functions is well intended but ill advised for proper clarity. A case of damned if you do and damned if you don't.
In any event one could argue that Bertie has now had a thorough personal investigation of his past very publicly via the media. His bill of health is probably better that the majority in political life. I wonder how many others would come up this well? Bertie has lost some of his teflon image but I believe he is still up there with the best there is in politics - and latest opinion polls still show him in a good light.