Eamon catching his Enda!
Well what a week in Irish politics, which has seen the well-overdue resignation of Brian Cowen as Fianna Fail leader; the coronation of an apologetic Micheal Martin; the announcement of a general election to be held on Friday 25 February, and the dissolution of the 30th Dail. The country is now gripped by pre-election frenzy of vote projections and the viability of 3-way or 5-way TV debates between the leaders of the 5 main political parties. Enda Kenny has declined so far to commit to a 3-way debate with the leaders of the FF and Lab party leaders, because he believes the debates should include Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein and John Gormley, leader of the Green Party. As expected, dissenters of FG and their leader are declaring that Mr Kenny is afraid of the 3-way plan, because of his own shortcomings as a debater. There may be some truth in that, but listening to the old stalwart of politics, Michael Noonan, opposition spokesman for Finance, I find myself agreeing with him, in that this is only the starting point of the sparring, posturing process that preceeds the real contest. I found it somewhat ironic, however, to hear Mr. Martin, (a few hours into his leadership, even with an apology) who sat at the FF Cabinet table for the last 13 years, with the responsibility of several important portfolios throughout that period, throwing down the gauntlet to the leaders of FG and LAB for 3-way RTE Television Debate, as if he were King Arthur of the Round Table of knights who believed in 'might for right'. I found the whole thing distasteful, yet not unexpected. Fianna Fail still think that the populus of this island are stupid; that the quick exit stage left and replacement of Brian Cowen is somehow going to ensure that FF achieve the magic number of 20 seats, which will thereby ensure a multi-million euro state-funded party political party contribution.
One very valuable thing that has arisen from the last 2/3 year period of an embarrasingly disasterous Irish political performance within Europe, is that the younger generation would appear to have shifted from a rather apathetic approach to Government and the democratic process, towards a position of not wishing to squander the right to vote, that their forefathers fought so hard to obtain. Many of my younger friends, perhaps 1st. time voters are asking for my advice. Naturally, I express my own views, but I emphasize the need to inform themselves by reading as much political literature and listening to as many political debates as possible. I firmly believe that no-one should make their choices, because of how their parents or extended circle of family and friends vote. They should have faith in their own judgement.
I cannot stress enough, the urgent need for politicians of all parties to get off their high horses and start speaking in a language that everyone can understand, and remember that they are servants of the people. Whilst, I am quite sure that most politicians begin their career, genuinely wanting to 'make a difference', they have to take stock of this new passionate and enthusiastic movement of young well-educated people, who also want to 'make a difference' by casting a well-informed vote of conviction.
Yes, Ireland is in so much trouble that is has had to be bailed out by the EU and IMF, which, some say, equals loss of sovereignty, but as a Finnish gentleman said, during a recent RTE radio broadcast, in relation to the financial difficulties within his own country in the late 90's; we should look at recent developments here in Ireland as an opportunity to throw out the old tired worn-out policies and start afresh. I found his words both uplifting and hopeful.
It is looking like the Fine Gael and Labour Party will emerge as the two main political parties after the next General Election, and will probably have the task of forming the next Coalition Government. I have seen quite a few coalition governments come and go over the last 34 yrs here in Ireland, and some have been only marginally successful. This time around, I think there will be two marked differences between this Coalition Government and their predecessors, or should I say at least, I'm hoping there are! Firstly, the devastation of all that the people of this island used to hold dear i.e. its Church, its Republican Leadership; its Banking and Financial Institutions, has forced the ordinary man to take back his own power: to take responsibilility for who he/she votes for; to question the beliefs that they inherited. Ireland is no longer a Republican toddler struggling to shake off a British influence; it is a strong, independent, Republican adolescent member of the EU. Secondly, it is quite possible that this General Election will see Fine Gael and Labour returning similar numbers of TD's, which should bring about a more evenly-spread division of cabinet seats, portfolios and power.
They are two individual parties, of quite differing radical thinking, who MUST come together, WORK together for the good of the people of this island, and beyond. This is not a time for egotism or jobs for the boys! It is a time for reasoning, seasoned with a passion for honesty, truth and inclusiveness.
After all, a Coalition Government should be like a good marriage. I am reminded of the words from an old music hall song, DAISY.
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do,
I'm 'alf crazy all for the love of you,
It won't be a stylish marriage
We can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon a seat
ON A BICYCLE MADE FOR TWO
(We could always swap 'Daisy' by 'Enda' or 'Eamon'!)
Well the cars ARE going, except for An Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, aren't they?
Ciao for Now!