There is much amusement in Ireland – albeit slightly nervous amusement – at the spectacle currently playing out in British politics.
A referendum that the winners didn’t want to win. A new PM and a surprising Foreign Secretary. Boris the buffoon is now one of the most senior members of the British Government and will be facing off against Britain’s allies and adversaries in a critical period. It’s funny and scary in equal measure.
Yet the amusement in Ireland obscures a truth that is scary without the funny side. Fianna Fail, perennial economy and life wreckers, are back at the top of the popularity stakes in Ireland.
Photo from linked Irish Times article.
Anyone looking east with amusement needs to concentrate on the idiocy closer to home.
Stockholm syndrome has nothing on what the Irish electorate seems to be able to do. Falling in love with your kidnapper is easier to understand than falling in love with this mob.
ISIS is the new terrorist organisation in the news. EVERYONE thinks they’re terrible. And yet there’s a funny silence in Ireland. Because we have some of the progenitors of ISIS in our national parliament. And they’re perfectly respectable people. Almost.
ISIS’ recent atrocity in Paris was particularly similar to two infamous atrocities by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the 1970s and not unlike a bunch since then. Whether by the PIRA itself or any of its spin-offs, the Irish republican terrorists aimed to massacre innocents. And they weren’t fussy about how. Their methods and attitudes were influential in forming the approach of other terrorist groups since, ISIS included.
The Birmingham Bombing and the Guildford Bombing are the particular two atrocities that should be in every Irish person’s mind this year. Innocent people blown to bits on a night out in town. Just like Paris.
The IRA and Sinn Fein make excuses, but they’re just the same as ISIS would make; “our cause is just”, “the result of historical oppression”, etc.
The debate will probably ease off again in a while since it’s unlikely that any of the main political parties cares enough to try to do anything, but it’s worth noting that the sectarian nature of Ireland’s schools is in the news at the moment. And it’s a national and international scandal.
Whatever you think about schools with an ethos (and most countries have them) the Irish situation is unusual. >90% of all primary schools are run by various arms of the Catholic Church. Another 6% or so by arms of the Church of Ireland. A scattered few are “other” or non-denominational.
For most people in the country the only local school is a Catholic school. Or, at best, there’s a Catholic school and a Protestant one. But mostly it’s Catholic.
So what if you’re not religious? Or a Jew or Muslim?
A couple of events in Irish politics recently made me wish I lived in a country where political integrity and courage existed much.
With honorable exceptions, they don’t.
On one hand we recently had Lucinda Creighton announcing the formation of a new political party. That’s all fine, but she’s still a sitting TD in a seat that she won as a Fine Gael candidate. And thus was supported by Fine Gael money, Fine Gael voters, and Fine Gael party workers. Worse, she was even supported by my money which Fine Gael gets from the taxpayer as a big party. And there’s absolutely no pressure within politics or from the Irish media for her to resign the seat and re-win it (or not) as either an independent or as a leader of a new party. Meantime she has the pay and public visibility of a sitting TD and the uncritical attention of much of the Irish media. And when challenged on the topic Ms Creighton makes it clear that she feels no obligation to go back to the electorate. None. Regards it as a stupid question.
So in her mind it’s OK to be elected with money, votes and effort from one set of people, leave those people behind and continue to sit in her seat as a TD. Let’s say I think that’s lacking political integrity. In the UK even Tories defecting to the much-maligned UKIP have all stood for re-election. But not in Ireland.
Ireland is re-entering on the path it’s tread several times before.
Housing is the flavour of the day, at least as long as there’s a mortgage on it. High house prices are again a good thing.
Recently the Central Bank tried to bring in some measures to reduce the madness, opposing 100% mortgages. There was a flurry of politicians, including many from the government, saying how dreadful this was and that it would “lock young people out of housing”. It is, of course, hypocritical nonsense.
There are elections on in Ireland, both for the European Parliament and for the local councils and corporations.
I keep wondering if it’s too late to register for the European elections. At least then I’d have a candidate I wasn’t ashamed to vote for.
As for the local elections, there are a couple of good independents to vote for so that’s good. It’s important to state that NOT one preference will go to ANY party candidate. FF are a solid disgrace. FG and Labour have proven to be liars, particularly Labour. SF are cause to emigrate if they ever get into power. And the left parties in Ireland are all nuts.
No-one remains. It’s like Ozymandias and the debris of Irish democracy.
It’s possibly a uniquely Irish clothing combination; a panama hat (or other sun hat) and a fleece or softshell. I can’t think of too many other places where it’d ever be an appropriate dress code. Sweden, perhaps, or the North East coast of England in the summer. Texel maybe.
In any case, it was the perfect solution to Ireland’s recent “heatwave”. Air temperatures of 14 degrees, but not a cloud in the June sky. Instead of being freezing cold AND sunburned, you can be warm and un-toasted. A really good solution. Mind you, wearing a panama hat does still seem to cause some socio-economic assumptions in Ireland.
Apart from that, we had a week where the Irish climate tried (briefly) to redeem its reputation in our household. After showing wintry photos of Dun Laoghaire harbor in May, here’s a tropical photo in June.
Dublin Bay in June
[photo from Brian Murphy’s FB page]