Our Greenies have established a group to look at the potential for using wellbeing indicators to measure the welfare of the Irish nation
Some time ago, former Fianna Fáil minister Mary O’Rourke described the killing of Michael Collins as an ‘assassination’.
Her use of the word provoked some controversy, particularly as it suggested a pre-meditated killing at Béal na Bláth that was ordered by heartless followers of Éamon De Valera. Generally speaking, ‘assassination’ implies the murder of a prominent political figure in a surprise attack.
But Big Mick’s violent end cannot be attributed to an ‘assassination’ in the strict sense of the word. Indeed, some critics suggest that his death was occasioned by Big Mick himself who insisted on descending (enthusiastically) from his vehicle and engaging with his Republican enemies.
He discharged a shot from a revolver – a weapon unsuited to such an affray. The story goes that he fired in such a way that the bullet rebounded from the side of vehicle behind which he was crouching, and hit him on the top of the head, splattering his brains about the road.
Technically, he ‘killed’ himself, although, of course, not intentionally. His demise, however, was not strictly an ‘assassination’, but an accidental death due to a self-inflicted wound that was occasioned by the clumsy discharge of a firearm.
Or to put it another way, Collins should have known better than to dawdle at an ambush!
Some local historians, however, have suggested that an excessive consumption of West Cork’s best poteen might have influenced his ability to shoot straight!
One way or another, Mary O’Rourke, like Don Quixote, raised an important issue. Her use of the word ‘assassination’ was an example of what Cervantes would have considered to be good writing. It “set one’s thoughts in the truest light and did not to leave them dark nor intricate, but clear and intelligible”. In other words, she got to the point!
Indeed Don Quixote’s recommendation is something that the Greenies should take on board, stricken as they are with a weakness for language that is deliberately opaque and bewildering.
For instance, here’s a classic example of Greenie gobbledegook or, to put it another way, language that is made unintelligible by the excessive use of technical terms. According to a handout from mini-minister Joe O’Brien and Deputy Neasa Hourigan, the Greenies have established a group to look at the potential for using wellbeing indicators to measure the welfare of the Irish nation. Fancy that!
It gets worse. In full flight they explain that ‘well-being indicators look at how Ireland is doing in a much broader way than simply our economic performance’.
The politicos explain that existing economic tools provide an opportunity ‘to create a well-rounded, holistic view of how our society is faring and that this reality will ensure a focused policy with an understanding of the impact it will have on the lives of all Irish citizens’.
Now, and of this we’re certain, if the IRA had presented an analysis of the nation’s economic woes with such a meaningless use of words, we can assume that Big Mick would have put the scribes/economists/ political hacks and humourists up against a wall and shot ‘em!
And no, plain language doesn’t mean dumbing down on the basis that it’s not precise or that it oversimplifies. The fact of the matter is that people prefer plain language.
The public understands it easily and, from a political point of view, when used properly, prompts fewer questions – a bonus for government ministers.
Most importantly, plain language relies on the best linguistic virtues, clarity and precision, which currently seem to be in short supply among Greenies if their fascination with ‘wellbeing indicators’ is anything to go by!
And it’s not just language that’s concerning our Greenies. Defections are taking their toll! The Queer Greens have fled, Cork councillor Lorna Bogue has resigned, backroom staff, policy chairs and ordinary decent members have folded tent and disappeared into the night.
Meanwhile, Eamo’ Ryan is blending into the background while sidekick Roderic O’Gorman emerges as author of one of the most contentious Bills in modern Irish politics, the Mother and Baby Homes Bill which, according to pundits, threatens to take down the entire Greenie organisation!
They really are fun people!
But, any examination of their varying moods, impulsive actions and difficult relationships with other parties, raises serious questions about the current state of disorder within the party and raises questions about its sense of political self.
How distorted and unstable is it, and under what psychological bracket does it belong? Should the Greenies properly be described as the ‘Obsessively Compulsive Party’?
In other words, are Greenies awfully good at policymaking but the pits at leading, particularly in a crisis when instant decisions have to be made. (Let’s not forget, either, that obsessive-compulsive politicos tend to go to extraordinary lengths to avoid disturbing an existing situation.)
Then there are the Machiavellian Greenies, namely politicos who are masters at the art of manipulation and who can exploit the political weaknesses of others.
They value toughness and believe in the old adage that might makes right. But they’re few and far!
And let’s not forget the Paranoid Greenies, the suspicious types who distrust even their closest confidants and hold grudges for yonks.
And, of course, there’s the Totalitarian Greenies, a rare breed, fortunately. They promote a cult of personality and reject facts that contradict Greenie goals and ambitions.
Do they need psychiatric help?
All of which reminds us of the old joke that did the rounds in Cork’s St Stephens Psychiatric Hospital. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: One, but the light bulb must want to change!
Last June, as reported in the Irish Times, Fine Gael opposed a Bill that would ban imports from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. The party did so on the basis that such an action would contravene EU law.
Our Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, revealed that the Government received legal advice from the Attorney General that EU trade agreements prevented Ireland from acting unilaterally on the matter – a ruling rubbished by proponents of the Bill who argued that Ireland had the right to make decisions based on ‘public policy’.
The Attorney General? Séamus Woulfe.