HAS MicheÃ¡l Martin missed the boat â again? Last month, he coyly intimated that he wouldn't be averse to a close association between his rather weedy band of brothers and those burly Blueshirts currently ruling the roost and confidently led by that political wrestler, the imposing Vlad the Impaler. Â
Martin seems to have had in mind a sort of marriage of convenience, like. Rhetorically gasping for breath at the excitement of it all, he announced that he wouldn't rule out âan arrangement with Fine Gael' after the next general election â a cobbling together that would ensure a stable five-year coalition administration.
At the same time Martin made it clear that he wasn't âruling anything in or out,' except (to paraphrase him) he wouldn't be seen dead with Sinn FÃ©in. He suggested that coalition with such a despicable crowd would be a step too far.Â It was a point of view shared by the Master of the Mid West, Willie O'Dea, who both agreed and disagreed with Mickey at the same time.
The two gents argued in a roundabout way that âcoalition with Fine Gael would be bad for Fianna FÃ¡il, as well as bad for Fine Gael.' âAnd why would that be?' we, the punters, wondered.Â
Because, according to the politicos' marvellously incoherent argument, âit would enable Sinn FÃ©in to grow in opposition.'Â
Â Irreparable damage
We scratched our heads in wonder, trying to comprehend a form of rationalisation which promoted an unstable, minority government rather than a stable majority government.
And, we asked ourselves, what was wrong with having SF as a major opposition party?Â Answer: âit would not be good for the country.' Â
You see, in relation to understanding the implications of political reality, the sagacious, discerning, andÂ acutely insightful Willie and Martin (and Vlad too) are of the opinion that there are âissues with Sinn Fein's whole approach to politics.' Yep, issues!
And what are these issues that cause such concern?Â Em, well, er, we really don't know because neither Mickey, Leo nor Willie tell us, although they repeat the following mantra ad nauseam: if FF were to go into coalition with FG, the outcome would permit the republicans to become the largest party in opposition; and we can't have that. Â
Why not?Â Because it would lead to the âcentre ground of Irish politics being irreparably damaged.'Â
âIrreparably damaged!' âThe centre ground!' Wow! That's terrible! What a scenario awaits the plain people of Ireland if Sinn FÃ©in were in opposition! Desolation, ruin, death and destruction; our beloved country laid waste, stunned, ravaged, pillaged, and plundered by those irresponsible Sinn FÃ©iners who do not represent theÂ âcentre ground.' Â
That's a place, you see, inhabited by respectable FF and FG politics. Its antithesis is down there, the region inhabited by the lower orders, the social welfare crowd, the anti-establishment element, the riff raff of Irish society!
But hang on a sec and pardon us if we're out of order. Didn't Martin's FiannaÂ Fail government do âirreparable damage' to Ireland a few years ago?Â Didn't he and his crew plunge thousands of decent Irish citizens into a financial crisis from which they are still trying to recover? Â
And doesn't Martin, as former Minister for Enterprise, Minister for Education, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, share the responsibility for the chaos that befell the country? What's more, didn't he lead his party (in 2011) into the worst defeat of any government in the history of the State?
Which raises this question:Â is Mr Martin really the best person to cast the first stone?
And now for something different: A curious sort of controversy is sweeping through Cork just now. The Corpo has ordered Starbucks to shut its St Patrick's Street outlet which the American company opened two years ago.Â It seems they never got planning permission for the change of use of the building.
Last year aficionados of the viscous stuff were wondering why the international coffee chain opened at least seven new stores across Ireland without planningÂ permission.Â
In general, planning permission must be sought when changing the use of a building from a shop or retail store to a restaurant or cafÃ©.Â
Starbucks argues that in many of its outlets a change of use of the buildings didn't take place, and that the service provided didn't constitute a restaurant or cafÃ©. Ergo, planning permission wasn't needed.
Nevertheless District Court penalties can be stiff when unauthorised use continues beyond a certain date.Â For instance, up to â¬5,000, or daily fines of up to â¬1,500!
History is bunk?
Although enjoying a rarefied historical value, the West Cork History Festival concluded without fisticuffs, having debated matters of great import. Topics such as whether or not Dan Hourihan participated in the Kilmichael Ambush, or the exact number of Protestants that weren't massacred in the so called Bandon holocaust!
In the wake of the Festival, the happy organisers declared they would âlove to hear of any feedback as to the form the next Festival would take.'Â So, Jack Lane of the Aubane Historical Society dropped them a note. He mentioned the âoversight' of not involving local history groups, or local historians. In other words, people with great knowledge of West Cork history, including those who highlighted in The Southern Star long-running controversies.
In the clouds
Not funny at all was the Indo headline about the âIrish Dad' found murdered in Columbia.Â The newspaper that pulls no punches lifted the story from the Irish Sun, despite employing the country's sharpest crime correspondents, renowned for explaining in great detail why Dublin's crime families love doing drugs and spreading that love to others.
The mutilated victim turned out to be a ruthless Dublin gangster and an associate ofÂ Colombian cocaine suppliers to this country. Hardly a âbeloved Dad.'
Lost in translation
According to the satirical magazine Private Eye, on the day after the visit of the King and Queen of Spain to the Houses of Parliament, during which the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, âwas all over the Royals like a rash,' the impression made by their Majesties still lingered.
A Labour backbencher, keen to try out his Spanish on the Speaker, jumped up during a debate and bellowed: âNÃºmero uno, SeÃ±or Presidente.' The Speaker of the House looked at him in total incomprehension, which prompted the Labour man to comment: âI thought you might have picked something up from the Queen of Spain yesterday.'
Â Immediately cries of âDisgraceful,' âYou're a cad!' âWithdraw that filthy comment' broke out from MPs. Upon which the Labour man hastily clarified: âI meant some Spanish!'