LINGUISTICALLY, our politicos never fail to impress. Local lad, Jim Daly TD, is a case in point. Indeed, if Ireland had a counterpart to the Doublespeak Award, Mr Daly would be an ideal candidate for the honour. The trophy is a tribute that the US-based National Council of Teachers gives to the public speaker that has best-perpetuated political language.
As a former ‘máistir’ at Skibbereen Gaelscoil, the FG politico would be aware of the attention American linguists pay to the manipulation of language whereby politicians can make the bad appear good, the negative positive and the unpleasant pleasant. He’s a dinger at such skills.
Of course the punter should not forget that, even if politicos make things as clear as mud by distorting language for political ends, behind the nonsense there’s a very clear objective. They want to control what people think and, to achieve such an end, they use a form of language that is deceptive, evasive, vague and confusing.
With Doublespeak the medium is the message. In the old days, the message was called propaganda, but now politicos describe the message as ‘the organised dissemination of information’.
And, if we observe the Doublespeak process in relation to Mr Daly, when the fogginess of thought lifts and the insincerity is laid bare, we see that the purpose of party propaganda (or the dissemination of information) is to further at all costs the interests of Fine Gael and, where appropriate, to reflect the wisdom of the Dear Leader.
Cork left standing
Here’s an example: Last week, Daly told De Paper that he did not believe the Government should wipe Cork Airport’s appalling financial burden, the €120m debt that Mickey Martin’s FF government originally imposed on the airport and which now threatens to sink the place.
Tourism interests, Cork County Council, business, chambers of commerce, trade unions, the general public and this newspaper in particular frequently warn that the debt is strangling the airport and that its enormity is preventing Cork from competing on an equal footing with Shannon Airport.
Should Cork Airport cease to exist, the consequences would be horrendous for Munster’s economy. Multi-nationals such as EMC, Apple and global pharmaceutical companies have pointed out that the airport was a major factor in their decision to choose Cork as a location for their industries and, they warn, the airport remains critical to their ongoing success.
But West Cork man Jim Daly and most of his FG cohorts have a different take on the matter. They’re deaf to the warnings. When pressed, Daly argued in a neat piece of Doublespeak that, were the government to cancel the €120m debt, Cork Airport would ‘potentially be left standing still’.
A Eureka moment
Needless to say, nobody had a clue as to what he meant by the comment ‘potentially be left standing still’ but it had a ring to it and seemed to point to a subtle line of reasoning that we, sadly, just didn’t have the wherewithal to grasp.
And then came the good news bit. An increase in passenger traffic and air routes would solve the €120m debt problem – as easy as that! Classic Doublespeak!
What’s more, he would prefer to see the government donate €1m (yes, as little as one million according to De Paper) for marketing new airport routes. This, in turn, would facilitate the growth of business and allow the airport to pay back its debt from the increased revenue. A truly Eureka moment!
Daly also believes better marketing of the West Cork region and the Wild Atlantic Way could attract ‘new tourists’ and that this too could have a significant impact on the ‘airport’s marketing strategy’.
So, with a smidgen of Doublespeak, everything eventually turns out easy-peesie, and there’s no need for the Leeside burghers and the prophets of doom to be getting their nether garments in a knot!
But, and here’s the million-euro question: when stripped of the rhetoric is Daly’s simplistic problem-solving just gobbledegook and unadulterated piffle?
No solution to crisis
Perhaps our esteemed public representative really does believe that if his gang sunk €1m into ‘marketing new routes,’ Cork Airport could spring into life and pay back its unsustainable debt?
On the other hand, the cynic might suspect that hidden behind the guff, Daly is merely repeating platitudes that are designed to conceal the fact that Kenny and Fine Gael have absolutely no intention of ever finding a solution to the crisis at Cork Airport.
Indeed, Fine Gael essentially shifts responsibility for the €120m debt onto the airport management and the Dublin Airport Authority (Cork’s indifferent bosses). It is the task of those bodies to reverse plummeting passenger numbers and, in some miraculous fashion, to make the place profitable!
Nor is Fine Gael prepared to introduce a ‘route development fund’ – presumably of the sort Daly had in mind. In answer to a Dáil question last February, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe glibly replied with the stock answer that it was ‘a matter for the airport and DAA to stabilise and grow traffic’.
Interestingly, whereas Daly has little difficulty parroting the government’s anti-Cork bias not all of the Blueshirt camp is ready to do the same. Noel Harrington, Daly’s competitor for votes in Cork South West, declared the debt should be written off and the airport managed independently.
Reward for Jim?
Fine Gael TD for Cork North West, Áine Collins shares his point of view. She believes the airport is pivotal to the continued growth of the West Cork region (where tourism generates 250,000 jobs and revenue of more than €5 billion annually).
Nonetheless, to be fair to the linguistically-smart Jim Daly, he’s consistent in his support of government policies and always has been. He carried the can for the plan to slash teachers’ allowance payments despite a furious teachers’ union, the ASTI, complaining that he was ‘maliciously’ promoting a tall tale.
And, in the ambulance controversy that bedeviled West Cork, he loyally toed the party line when campaigners accused him of abandoning them in their hour of need. He hit back, alleging ‘vested interests’ within the campaign, and of ‘reckless and opportunistic scaremongering’.
The people deserved the truth, he proclaimed, and that as long as he had the responsibility of elected office he would communicate honestly with the electorate. ‘Electoral considerations do not feature in this very serious issue for me,’ he said at the time.
A principled politico, indeed, whose devoted attachment and allegiance to the Dear Leader has so far gone unrewarded. Even the most gnarled critic would agree that Daly deserves better for his years of total commitment. Like a seat at the cabinet table, for instance?
But, hang on a sec! Could that be another example of Doublespeak, that corrosive language that conceals and prevents thought?