DESPITE Labour’s silver-tongued political correctness over the past five years, the party is facing melt-down next month when the ordinary people of Ireland punch home the fact that everything wrong with this country is not due to the tyranny of the Catholic Church, but to the party’s uselessness.
The Cloth Cap Brigade, you see, abandoned whatever principles it had on becoming suffused with Fine Gael meanness. Worse still, it endorsed the Blueshirt message that Ireland had to shake off the remnants of traditional values in order to join the 21st century.
In the process, Labour became an enthusiastic participant in the Fine Gael mission to be on the side of everything that was swish, trendy, financed by shifty lobbies and backed by sympathetic cronies in the meeja – particularly in RTÉ and the Indo-Sindo.
But now retributive justice is on its way. The polls are indicating that, although Fine Gael will not repeat its 76-seat record of the 2011 election, it has retained the vital core support of its smug, conservative stronghold in town and country. Labour, on the other hand is facing Armageddon.
Why? Because it endorsed Fine Gael’s tolerance of the systemic rot that accompanied the imposition of water and property taxes, the fact that oligarchies control the media, that the banking sector is in a state of putrefaction, that chaos reigns in the gardaí and that a breakdown afflicts the health service.
It’s sad, of course, that Labour is a victim of public revulsion, considering the trendy efforts it made to be on the side of everything that was commercial, saleable, and economically with-it, even if it meant Labour’s social conscience disappearing down the jacks.
The failures of Education Minister, Jan O’Sullivan, are a case in point. Following in the footsteps of her predecessor, Ho Chi Quinn, O’Sullivan wanted to leave an indelible mark on Ireland’s newest political football, education.
In Quinn’s case, abolishing the Junior Certificate and replacing it with a system of school-based continuous assessment was the essence of contemporary trendyism. The proposal originated in the country’s trendiest quango, the handsomely-financed National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and it was totally off the wall. It had as much substance as Quinn’s solemn pre-election vow to oppose any increase in third-level registration fees.
The result? Parents, teachers and schools laughed Quinn out of court, but O’Sullivan was not deterred. Responding to mosquito groups such as Atheist Ireland, she declared less religion in primary schools was very desirable and began planning a new curriculum for schools that would not concentrate on teaching a particular religion. Instead schools would provide information about religion in general.
The surplus time achieved by having fewer religion classes would be devoted to philosophy, modern languages, financial education and ‘coding’ – topics that seven-year-olds would find enthralling!
Balmpot stuff that had to be taken seriously by the Bishops’ Council for Education! Last week the bishops issued a statement reminding the Minister that a school’s stated ethos (the values and principles) ‘is promoted by the owners or patrons-trustees of the school and not by central government. In Catholic schools religious education is based on a Christian vision of the human person with a clear respect for all people irrespective of faiths. This is expressed in a commitment to learning to engage in interreligious dialogue in age appropriate ways. Faith schools exist because there are parents who wish to have their children educated in accordance with their religious convictions. If the ethos of these schools is undermined then the rights of such parents are compromised.’
Which was a polite way of saying ‘put that in your pipe, missus, and cop yourself on’!
Of course, the crusading Ms O’Sullivan may not be with us much longer as Education Minister. Although boasting of being a disciple of the anti-nationalist Jim Kemmy, she hasn’t his proletarian appeal and is under severe pressure to hold her Limerick seat in a constituency where the Labour vote plummeted to 11 per cent in the local elections.
To make matters worse, racing up the inside track is Sinn Féin’s Maurice Quinlivan who is tipped to knock her for six. Yet, we must confess a sneaking regard for Ms O’Sullivan. Accompanied by Master Mariner Joan Burton, she’s decided to go down with the ship – unlike certain smart lads, such as Ruairi Quinn, the two former Workers Party ideologues Messrs Rabbitte and Gilmore, and the three political non-entities no one ever heard of: Jack Wall, Michael Conaghan and Sean Kenny.
Those guys eagerly grabbed the ‘pinsin’ and proclaiming they were finished with national politics jumped the coffin ship (affectionately named the ‘Working Class-Me-Arse’) and headed for the security of dry land.
Kathleeeen in trouble?
And although some Labourites might be heartbroken at the plight of the brave political refugees who chose to remain on board, they can take solace in the fact that Madame Burton and Jan O’Sullivan will not be alone as ministers whose political careers are destined to go down the Swanee.
Another old-stager facing extinction is Kathleeeen Lynch, the Junior Health Minister. Sadly, her stewardship of Mental Health and Disability has been an unmitigated disaster, which has led to the assertion that a good ship’s officer she certainly ain’t.
Having learned nothing from the scandal of the Leas Cross nursing home after a ‘Prime Time’ television report revealed sub-standard living conditions, she was quite taken aback when another TV investigation told of a litany of forced feeding, kicking and slapping of patients at the Áras Attracta home.
And then, last week, we had the latest horror to occur under her incompetent jurisdiction: the long term savage sexual abuse of a disabled victim in a South East foster home.
Minister Lynch, as with prior cases, professed to be shocked – although negligently out of touch might have been a more appropriate description of her reaction (for instance, she hadn’t a clue if any of her HSE officials had been disciplined!).
Anywhere else, the minister in charge would resign or be sacked.
Later this month, we’ll learn if her Cork Northside constituents have given her a well- deserved bum’s rush. Speculation already is rife that she’ll be out on her ear if the poll-topping vote of SF’s Jonathan O’Brien brings comrade Thomas Gould into the Dáil with him.
Indeed, the harrowing scenario for Labour is that the party will end up with nobody in Cork city and county except for one humble county councillor. In the 2014 local elections, Labour lost all its city councillors and all but two of its county councillors, one of whom later defected to Fine Gael.
A serious question mark hangs over Deputies Ciarán Lynch in Cork South Central and Mallow’s Seán Son of Sherlock. And our very own Michael McCarthy could also be for the chop and, jeepers-creepers, that’s just not trendy at all!