POOR ‘ole Mickey! Everybody blames him for everything; and, don’tcha know, perhaps they’re right, even though he’s reached the very pinnacle of his ambitions: part-time Taoiseach of the Twenty Six Counties!
He didn’t ‘win’ the general election and ‘got in’ by wangling a deal with his Blueshirt butties who will indulge him as a sort of pretend Taoiseach for two years before Vlad takes back the top job. The fact is that Vlad, the FG man and Mickey, the FF man, will share power – their ‘wheeze’ never having been endorsed by the electorate.
Which raises the question as to why Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael see ‘power sharing’ as preferable to another general election.
Indeed, in what way will a grimy political deal better the lives of the Plain People of Ireland?
And what’s the point of having a general election in the future if governments can be formed by a bunch of head-honchos coming together over a few pints and divvying out the spoils of power between themselves: ‘We’ll rule for two years and you’ll rule for the following two years’ – that sort of thing? It smacks of Tony Soprano!
MONEY TO BURN
For instance, the new gang was hardly in the door a wet week when top of the agenda was a plan to increase the remuneration of a third ‘super junior’ minister (one of the chums) who, for sitting in at cabinet meetings, would be entitled to a new allowance of €16,000, on top of the €124,000 salary as a mini-minister of State.
The former practice was for two mini-ministers only to be entitled to the allowance but, because of the coalition arrangement, which ensured ‘fairness’ among the pals, the new coalition will have three junior ministers in the Cabinet, all handsomely rewarded.
The benefits are nothing to snigger about! In line for small fortunes (quite legitimate, of course) are Fianna Fáil’s Jack Chambers, Fine Gael’s Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State for Roads, and a senator from the Greenie Party with the charming moniker of Pippa Hackett.
She is a junior minister in the Department of Agriculture.
Sinn Féin TD Rosie Conway-Walsh said that public reps who were already earning €2,884 per week, surely had enough to live on. Others wanted the pay of TDs and senators to be cut, not increased, on the basis that their super-salaries already were ‘nauseating.
The point at issue, of course, is the Mickey Martin/Vlad Varadkar interpretation of parliamentary democracy. Mickey sees democracy as ‘having the mandate to go forward’ which, loosely interpreted, means enhancing the opportunities for personal advancement. Vlad seems to agree.
And that, dear reader, in a nutshell, is what Irish politics is all about: ‘personal advancement’. Pass the sick bag, will ya?
BUESHIRTS IN CLON
Keeping an eye on Clonakilty is eminent socialist historian Manus O’Riordan who recently came upon an interesting document relating to the wearing of blue shirts in Clonakilty National School in 1934.
According to the Garda Superintendent’s office at that time, 30 boys from Clonakilty town and vicinity refused to go to school as a protest against the wearing of blue shirts by other pupils attending the school.
The boys assembled in one of the streets near the school, unfurled the tricolour, or national flag, and marched around the town until the early afternoon, singing political songs such as ‘Legion of the Rear Guard’ and shouting ‘Up Dev’ and ‘Up Tom Barry’.
As a result, 14 warning notices under the School Attendance Act were served.
The gardaí pointed out that about 20 boys attending the school continued to wear blue shirts and that it was ‘obvious that their parents were to a great extent accountable for this … and likewise it was apparent that the boys marching around the street were doing so with the knowledge and consent of their parents.’
FUTURE OF SINN FÉIN
Pat Maloney, editor of Labour Comment, recently made the interesting point that, whereas the 1921 Treaty and the subsequent Civil War were responsible for dividing Irish politics into ‘Sinn Féin versus the Rest’, the current situation is that Fianna Fáil, (an offshoot of Sinn Féin) has joined with Fine Gael, (another offshoot of Sinn Féin) in adopting a ‘subservient role’ in its dealings with the UK.
He asserts that a political vacuum has been created which the current Sinn Féin has to fill if it is to justify its existence in Irish politics in the Republic. ‘It cannot live forever off its achievements in Northern Ireland. It must replace Fianna Fáil.’
He goes on to say that in the forthcoming years, when commemorating the Civil War and with regard to ‘the destruction of the Irish Republic that people had voted, fought and died for’, Sinn Féin must steal Fianna Fail’s historic clothes, ‘which should be easy, as Fianna Fáil itself has discarded them’.
MONSTERS OF THE DEEP!
Indeed, the recent argy-bargy between an Irish trawler and a Royal Navy warship should be grist to the mill for Sinn Féin.
Her Majesty’s war vessel, the Lancaster, which was in Irish waters, ordered a trawler-full of Donegal fishermen to kindly eff-off as the Jolly Jack Tars were busy conducting a top secret operation with a submarine, and that they would continue doing so for several days. Consequently, under no circumstances could they have a bunch of Paddies snooping about.
The offended fishermen promptly contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Haulbowline Matelots who, to their credit, dispatched two sea-worthy naval vessels to monitor the area.
The British Matelots have clammed up, as has the Department of Foreign Affairs, both wary of getting involved in a maritime punch-up. So much for Ireland’s exercise of national sovereignty!
BONES OF CONTENTION
Some controversy was generated recently by the assertion that WB Yeats’ remains, which are said to be buried in Drumcliffe churchyard in Sligo, were not those of the great poet.
His bones, it seems, remain in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the Riviera town where he died in 1939, and that the bits and bobs sent to Sligo belonged to another corpse.
All very awkward for the huge Yeats tourist industry which will have to admit that … em ... the chap they’ve been commemorating in Drumcliffe cemetery for yonks is not Our Willie but probably an Englishman by the name of Alfie Hollis!
Which makes all the more relevant the letter to The Irish Times. It commented that if the bones were exhumed at Drumcliffe churchyard, it was to be hoped that students wouldn’t suffer the nasty surprise which the writer got in his Leaving Cert ‘when he was expecting Yeats, and Kavanagh came up instead!’