‘IT’s a mad, mad world, my masters,’ would have been the appropriate response from Eamon Ryan, the commander-in-chief of the Vegetable Party (Greens, geddit?). His conformity to accepted standards of behaviour and political morality is legendary but, recently, he was up to his oxters in the doo-daws after uttering that word in the Dáil!
And no, it’s not the word that starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘K.’
Readers who are especially well informed on parliamentary matters will recall that a former leading light of Mr Ryan’s political outfit broke the mould by uttering the notorious F-word in Dáil Eireann, back in 2009, to criticise a fellow public representative.
So, if it’s not the F-word, it must be the dreadful term which begins with N, has six letters, and ends in R, and is described in the best dictionaries as the most socially offensive word in the English language. It is deeply insulting, contemptuous and hostile to any member of a dark-skinned race; and it’s the N word, of course!
Its origins are in the French negre (1640-50). Related words include examples such as niggard, niggardly, niggle, niggling, and nigh.
Frightened the horses
Ryan’s use of that word shocked not only the comrades but civilised society in general even though he hasn’t a racist bone in his body and was quoting from a newspaper article that referred to the racial abuse suffered by a young, black Irishman.
Among Greenies it’s an unwritten rule that no matter how crass the provocation, they always try to be non-confrontational, and they never, never, frighten the horses. But the commander-in-chief, unfortunately, did just that!
Question is, was Ryan’s reference to the word really that shocking or was there another interpretation that was not readily noticeable?
Because within minutes of the gaffe sinking in, members of Ryan’s party were exploiting his ‘disrespect’ towards people of colour, just as he was facing a leadership challenge from the Greenie deputy leader, Catherine Martin. Of course, we are not suggesting in any shape or form that the Monaghan music teacher participated in such a course of action. Certainly not!
Nevertheless, ‘Ryan is done for’ was the message that went belting ’round the net!
Green Councillor Danny Whooley-Ongar, considered his leader’s use of the ‘n-word’ to be dreadfully regrettable as ‘no person should use such words of hate regardless of context, be it by mistake or on purpose.’
The terribly offended Cllr Danny Whooley-Ongar reminded his leader that no parliamentarian who ‘invokes’ such words should lead an Irish political party and that apologies were not good enough.
Ryan no racist
No wriggling room there, although Greenies pointed out that although Ryan was not a racist his use of the ‘N’ word was ‘unacceptable.’
Others took the point of view that because the Greenies were likely to have a role in a Coalition government, the comment was irresponsible and outrageous, and that the party seemed to be out of control. That hurt!
The fact of the matter is that the row stank of political hypocrisy and phony outrage and observers couldn’t help but wonder if it was intended to do as much political damage as possible to the decent Mr Ryan just when a leadership challenge seemed to be on the cards?
But that’s the business of the Greenies, of course, and about which the average punter doesn’t give a toss. Green backstabbing is part and parcel of their fun and games, and has as much relevance for the outsider as a ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ video game!
Nonetheless, the journos lapped it up. According to those merciful, forgiving, kind, gracious, tender-hearted and tolerant political observers, a mortified and exhausted Mr Ryan fled to his ‘tiny Leinster House office’ where he told newshounds that he bitterly regretted making the comment and wished it undone.
The Indo/Sindo chums observed that he was ‘kicking himself’ over his use of the n-word, fearful of having damaged his hopes of remaining-on as Green Party leader. ‘It’s a sensitive time and, if I could reverse the clock 24 hours, I would. I’d take that time machine and change my words,’ he was reported to have said.
Our hearts go out to him but to make matters more distressing, his political sin consisted of nothing more than expressing a condemnation of racism in a somewhat jumbled fashion. But, it did not have a favourable effect on the comrades and, incredibly, was enough to make the house fall-in. Worse still, it undermined Eamon’s hopes of continuing as Green Party leader.
Lamentations aside, the point at issue is not to daub Ryan as a crypto-racist and, indeed, it would be a tragedy should he lose his leadership position because of a controversy that to outsiders seems somewhat contrived.
A national play
John McGuirk, from the news website GRIPT, put it well when he wrote: ‘Nobody thinks Ryan is a racist. But he wasn’t accused of racism, he was accused of something much worse: of being “offensive”… The only thing that matters these days is how a word makes the listener “feel”… If it makes you “feel” bad, then it must be bad, and the person who said it must be bad, and there must be consequences for their badness.
That’s how it works, and it’s pointless to pretend otherwise.
‘To those young Greens who issued press releases yesterday, the whole thing must have come as a terrible shock.
Because all they were doing was playing their part in the national play that has been scripted around these events for several years now.
‘You issue your press release, you get invited onto Matt Cooper, you say how terribly sorry you are but the fact is that this sort of language just isn’t acceptable these days, and then Alison O’Connor appears on another radio show to say that you have a point and that things like this just can’t be said in this day and age.
‘Then your target resigns, and we all move on!’
Unique brand of politics
In the meantime the Greenies continue with their unique brand of politics, announcing that future plans for the M20, the vital road link between Cork and Limerick, ‘were not going to happen.’
The claptrap did not go down well with motorists whose misfortune is to have to travel on the current death-trap of a road. Certainly, motorists and lorry drivers were not impressed with crass Greenie (fake-ideology?) irresponsibility; or, to put it simply, should that be horrifying Green insanity?