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Sunday, November 17, 2013

They haven’t gone away you know

I remember the day that the Troika arrived very well. I was Mayor of Wexford at the time and it coincided with a conference of the Wexford Educational Network at which I was asked to speak.  While the country was transfixed by the economic crisis I focused instead in my remarks on 2 shocking incidents that week where 4 children had died violent deaths in that snowy week and the need to put children at the centre of welfare.

I’m reminded of the famous day when Fianna Fail ministers denied the reality of their betrayal of the people because this week we’re at last starting to see the end of that bleak period in our history.   However the Ireland that is emerging from this period is significantly changed socially and economically from the country that crashed into the fiscal wall of 2010.  And while everything has moved on politically and economically from that period there still are issues that need to be tackled.  So as we leave the straightjacket that Fianna Fail locked ourselves into 3 years ago there remains the challenge of  dealing with our societal values.  Perhaps a troika of therapists are now needed to advise on how best to re-organise our state?
Ireland is not just an open economy, it’s a European post colonial state.  Brenán Ó h-Either in his brilliant book assessing the Irish psyche in the 80’s attributes much of our collective attitude to begrudgery. He linked that to cynicism and the Irish sense of self reliance or distrust of authority.  If Ó h-Either was alive now I imagine he’d add anger to that Troika!
There is a lot of anger out there, anger towards politics primarily but also a wider anger towards society. Just listen to liveline and you’ll get an earful of it any day of the week.  It is a growing anger that needs to be challenged.  At its core there is the big lie of they’re all the same.  Fianna Fail were masters of that line for years. It was their defence to anyone who challenged them.  During the week someone said to me that they were considering voting Fianna Fail again as the people who were responsible for the economic betrayal were all gone.  I asked them who was leading Fianna Fail and why was it that they have no Deputy Leader? Was Michéal Martin not in office from 1997-2011 and was it not the case that they have no deputy leader as that would put another of the old guard in the media spotlight?
And the more things change the same it is! So welcome back John O’Donghue, Mary Coughlan, Mary Hanafin. Willie O’Dea, Micheal Martin and Eamon Ó Cuiv are already waiting for you. Unless they’ve learnt something from their past then they are of little use to the state. Indeed their release from the self imposed period of solitary confinement  can only add to the anger and cynicism as most people understand that real issues that affect real people’s lives need to be addressed from 2014 onwards; jobs and employment.  That’s the landscape that dominates politics now, at a local level and national.  Ironic that those who lost their own job so dramatically in 2011 now believe they have the solution to the problems all along.

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