Veering West

COLM TOBIN: So what’s the ‘Point’ if it’s a choice between the Arctic and the artics?

April 17th, 2022 5:05 PM

By Southern Star Team

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IT was a case of ‘congestion once again’ in Dublin this week when a small group of hauliers alighted on Dublin Port and the area around the 3Arena (The Point! It’s called The Point!) with a list of demands and ultimatums not heard in the city since Pádraig Pearse read from his cue cards outside the GPO in 1916.

These truckers were serious. All pumped up on Yorkie bars and petrol station coffee, they meant business. Their demands came hot and fast like a petrol station breakfast roll.

And they came in bullet points, surely the most dangerous and aggressive form of communication known to humanity.

They wanted petrol capped at €1.20 per litre. They wanted diesel capped at €1.20 per litre. They demanded home heating and green diesel prices be capped. They wanted ten sacrificial cyclists to be capped and their heads erected on the plinth in Dáil Éireann.

They wanted the carbon tax to be taken out the back and shot. They demanded Eamon Ryan’s resignation or the puppy gets it.

Okay, I’m exaggerating slightly here, but that was the general direction of travel. Anyone who has ever tried to overtake a truck on the motorway knows that if you give these guys an inch, they’ll take your wing mirrors as well.

Meanwhile, in a completely different simulation of reality, across the water, a group of Extinction Rebellion protestors brought London to a standstill, shutting Lloyds of London and demanding they pull out of the Trans Mountain Tar Sands pipeline, which they will increase oil exports and pollute indigenous lands. ‘No to oil’ was their simple slogan.

Two extreme sides of protest, one massive global climate crisis. It’s a choice between the Arctic or the artics, it seems.

It was a snapshot of the struggles to come as the Western World is slowly waking up to the reality of energy transition and the necessity to wean ourselves off fossil fuels. We all know it has to happen, but it’s going to be expensive and divisive, and we are now beginning to see that it’s going to be an absolute nightmare for politicians to navigate.

At the moment, the Green Party are being used as a sponge to soak up public anger over what people see as middle class city slicker values being imposed on their lives. All the while, they are quietly spearheading climate policies as agreed in the programme for government.

This week saw a dramatic reduction of 20% in some public transport fares. The retrofitting plan is rolling out. Turf sales are going to be banned.

It’s slow but it’s happening.

Using the Greens as a political sponge-bag suits the mainstream parties fine.  They all talk the talk when it comes to addressing Ireland’s outrageously poor climate record, but you’d wonder how many will be rolling their eyes on the doorsteps come election time and quietly blaming it all on the ‘feckin’ Greens’. Sinn Féin calling for the abolition of the carbon tax is a case in point.

The danger is that all this could result in a polarisation that will lead to a more radical form of politics emerging in Ireland. It’s ‘us versus them’, ‘culchies versus Dubs’, and ‘farmers versus eco-academics’ when what we need now is solidarity on a historic scale if we are to overcome the challenges ahead. This is Covid times 19.

The French election shows how far this polarisation can go with Le Pen’s far-right movement getting closer and closer to victory in each election, much of it on the back of the sort of Yellow Vest sentiment we saw this weekend at Dublin Port.

This would be a disaster for Europe and for progressive causes in the West. It would be a disaster for Ireland if the centre doesn’t hold here. 

Slow walks to runways

SPEAKING of congestion, I don’t know if any of you have holidays booked this summer but if you are flying out of Dublin Airport, you might want to join the queue now. Social media was lit with stories of people queueing for hours, from 5am in some cases, and still missing their flights.

Funnily enough, social media was also lit with Cork people saying stuff like ‘Cork airport is grand, actually’ and ‘I breezed through security this morning, boy! Wish you were here. Xxx’. Best to keep schtum about that one, lads. I’ll tell no on – promise!

Doctor in the Chair

IT was announced this week that Luke O’Neill and Mary Horgan are going to be among the members of a new group to replace NPHET. I’m calling it the Continuity NPHET.

All threats of future lockdowns are to be ‘put beyond use’, for the time being at least.

Apparently, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan will chair the group, presuming he’s still willing to stay in Ireland after the fiasco around his appointment to a new role in Trinity College.

Opinion was divided as to what transpired.

On the one hand, people claimed it was another case of ‘jobs for the lads’, typical of the cosy Irish corporate and political culture.

On the other, it was a great loss for the students of Trinity who could have learned so much from a great leader with a wealth of knowledge and experience.

As I am beginning to learn as I get older, the answer usually lies somewhere in the middle.

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