OH DEAR! The jury is out as to whether Our Vlad, Father of the Nation and Gardener of Human Happiness, had a successful visit to the United States on St Patrick’s Day.
Because, you see, wherever he goes, Vlad seems to get his knickers in a knot. For instance, in Chicago he wore his ceremonial sash the wrong way and, then, had to contend with that fear-inspiring force, Conor McGregor, the mixed martial ‘artist’. The pugilist marched side by side with Vlad and although McGregor also was representing Ireland, Vlad ignored him.
Public acclaim, however, was directed at McGregor, not at our esteemed Taoiseach who was ignored. The fact is that the prize fighter upstaged Varadkar and stole the show.
In an interview afterwards, Our Taoiseach grumpily remarked: ‘I don’t think he was representing the country. That’s the kind of thing I was doing.’ Poor chap, our Vlad!
And who can forget that tight suit worn by Vlad’s boyfriend – just a tad constrictive of movement, dontcha know. Not that it mattered in the slightest, of course.
The media was more interested in the reaction of Vice President Mike Pence to Varadkar’s pro-LGBT speech that he imparted at a breakfast in Pence’s home. Pence, who has a reputation for supporting anti-gay legislation listened courteously.
If he thought Varadkar was out of order as a visitor, he made no comment. ‘Heck, why bother?’ seemed to be his silent response.
And then there was Sinn Fein president, Mary Lou McDonald, marching at a St Patrick’s Day parade in New York and carrying a banner with the message: ‘England. Get out of Ireland.’
Vlad kept his gob shut on this one, leaving the fit of indignation to young Mr Coveney who blew a gasket. In an official statement, he angrily described Ms McDonald’s action as ‘offensive, divisive and an embarrassment’: ‘Grow up,’ he told her.
A representative of the miniscule SDLP also expressed ‘shock’ at her rudeness and asked Americans to ‘contrast’ the Sinn Féin image of Ireland with the progressive picture that Vlad presented when talking to Mr Pence about LBGT stuff.
The Alliance Party then jumped on the bandwagon, acidly complaining that Ms McDonald’s banner was not only profoundly ‘stupid,’ it also sent out a hostile and offensive message to anyone English or of English extraction on this island.
The SDLP (an outfit that recently fused with Fianna Fáil to become an incoherent lump of matter with no specific shape) contemptuously declared that Sinn Féin weren’t capable of convincing unionists of anything, and that it would be left to the SDLP-FF to ‘do the heavy lifting.’ At which we smirked.
How weird it was that this year’s St Patrick’s Day in America ended in an overexcited reaction to Northern politics, and that Partition should be the point at issue. It was back to the old days although it must be acknowledged that Mickey has been hawking the topic of re-unification since last January when he declared that his party had a right ‘to express an aspiration for a single State for all on this island’ (without this being presented as a threat to anyone, of course).
Needless to say Martin gave no details, nor did his ‘unity plan’ include the participation of Sinn Féin in any shape or form. And he has yet to explain just what he meant by an ‘aspiration.’.
Interesting too that opinion polls show that the majority of people in the Republic want a border poll in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and that six in ten people want to see a united Ireland in their lifetime. Perhaps that’s what he meant by ‘an aspiration’?
It was left to Northern commentator, Brian Feeney, to explain things. He wrote in the Irish News earlier this month that neither Varadkar nor Martin understand the complexities of Northern politics.
As an example of worthless political ballyhoo, similar to the ‘fantasy waffle’ that was common before the Good Friday Agreement, Feeney referred to a speech Varadkar gave at the Alliance Party’s pre-conference dinner. At that event Our Taoiseach stated that a ‘vision for reconciliation’ was needed, as well as an ‘integrated Northern Ireland.’
As far as Feeney was concerned, the Taoiseach hadn’t a bulls notion about the politico-ethnic make-up of the North – and didn’t want to know. He suggested that politicians such as Martin and Varadkar, throw around confetti terms such as ‘reconciliation and integration’ with such enthusiasm that they debase the meaning of the words.
No centre ground
He also pointed out that the ‘Get-a-Longers’ of the Alliance Party had got nowhere in the last 50 years. And, as for Varadkar’s endorsement of a ‘broad centre ground,’ which would be occupied by ‘growing numbers who feel they are both British and Irish,’ well, that was nothing but ‘piffle.’
The fact is, he said, there was no ‘broad centre ground’ in the North. It doesn’t exist. It was a fantasy. The reality, as the Chief Constable pointed out, was that ‘politics in the North were more polarised, more entrenched, and less creative than 20 years ago.’
Feeney also poured scorn on Varadkar’s self-declared role as an ‘honest broker: ‘That’s exactly the opposite of what he’s required to be,’ he said. ‘As Taoiseach, his duty is to advance Irish unity. The Supreme Court declared that objective a “constitutional imperative”.’
He continued: “The Good Friday Agreement requires the British Government to act with rigorous impartiality, which they do not. Besides, unionists will never see any Taoiseach as an ‘honest broker’ and how does that silly objective square with his promise to the nationalist people, that ‘you will never again be left behind by an Irish government’?
As for Mickey Martin, Feeney accuses him of uttering ‘vacuous remarks’ that are motivated by his obsession to be Taoiseach and by his loathing of Sinn Féin. He said Martin believes that his only hope of becoming Taoiseach is by leading a coalition that includes Fine Gael. Problem is, the more seats Sinn Féin wins, the more damage they do to Fine Gael.
Feeney also points out that Martin and RTÉ have been putting the blame on Sinn Féin for the collapse of the Assembly, while ignoring the fact that if Arlene Foster had agreed to stand aside temporarily she would still be First Minister.
Nor has he time for the SDLP. He refers to it as ‘a willing catspaw in a futile attempt to enable Micheál Martin become Taoiseach.’ No wonder, he says, that Mark Durkan flew the coop to Fine Gael, horrified at the half-in, half-out, subordination to Fianna Fáil.
Powerful stuff, but ignored down here!