An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The myth of “the ordinary Irish people”

Ordinary values? Depends on what they're bitching about today. They used to appear all over editorial letter pages in newspapers, although today they’re more likely to appear in the comments section of a blog. “Why?” They gush, “Why don’t the politicians care about the ordinary people of Ireland?”

Here’s the big secret that you won’t hear on Joe Duffy: There’s no such thing as the ordinary Irish people, or at least the only thing that unites the Irish people is that they are not united.

“I’m just an ordinary Irish person”  They’ll say. Save for the fact that they use the red diesel in their car, or can retire from their public sector job at 50, or know who to talk to in Fianna Fail to get “that thing sorted”. They’ll rail against “the click” running the GAA or the country or the profession they work in, but the real point of the railing is that they’re not on the inside. When they’re on the inside, then it becomes “inappropriate” to point out the things they were complaining about.

Of course, they protest all this. They’re adamant that there are only two classes in Ireland. The ordinary people, and what the Americans call “the special interests”. 

They’re against the vested special interests, of course. Except for the sister who is a teacher. Well, she works very hard! And then there’s the publicans who need to be looked after, well, that’s obvious. And the taxi drivers, some of their issues need to be addressed, that goes without saying. But that crowd in the Dail, sure they don’t care about ordinary people like that, do they? When was the last time a poor teacher or publican got a look-in in that place?  

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