Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics
 
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When I was a homophobe.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 25, 2014 in Irish Politics, Jason's Diary

Thought I’d repost this again after a conversation I had with someone this weekend.

I’m one of those people who regards same-sex marriage as a litmus test for politicians. That doesn’t mean that every candidate I support or votes for has to be pro-gay marriage, but I certainly could not vote for one who actively campaigns against.

I wasn’t always like this. When I was younger, I was certainly homophobic, as many of my now openly-gay friends will tell you. What made me change my mind?

Well, for a start, I was never homphobic in that weird animalistic way that some guys are, wanting to physically confront gays as some sort of affront to their very being. I’ve always found that sort of homophobia bizarre, indeed suspected that there is a hint of “doth protest too much” about it. I never subscribed to jailing gays or seeking out their lifestyle to destroy it, instead believing in the concept of the comfortable, well-lit tidy closet. How generous I was.

But I did take offense at the idea of homosexuals “forcing” their lifestyles upon the rest of us, of the open public displays of affectation as an affront to mainstream values.

Then two close friends of mine came out within a year of each other. Both were good friends who had never given an inkling of being gay, and it came, to me at least, as a surprise, especially as both had been recipients of many of my gay-unfriendly “witticisms”.

The fact that two of my friends were gay made me confront my own beliefs. Was I “offended” by their life choices? Was I repulsed?

Actually, I was ashamed of my own behaviour, when I examined how I had behaved around these two guys. But what surprised me was how non-threatened I felt. Many straight men have a curious belief that gay men have an agenda to “turn” them. I was reminded of this when a relative of mine questioned how I could feel comfortable having gay friends. He reckoned he couldn’t do it, because he would be constantly afraid of them “moving” on him. When I pointed out that he was probably not good looking enough for most of the gay men I knew he was quite put out, funnily enough.

After that, I then had a girlfriend who had a gay business partner and a gay roomate, and with that a gay circle of friends, and that was that. Whatever about fearing homosexuality as a concept, it’s nigh impossible to fear people whom you actually care about.

Some time after that, Liz O’Donnell expressed surprise that I was straight, and I surprised myself by not actually minding that someone thought I was gay, a suggestion that would have troubled me deeply previously.

On the flipside, it is worth remembering that not everybody who is uncomfortable with homosexuality is automatically a hate-filled homophobe. For the Irish in particular, we do hate in a curious way. We’re great at hating a race or group, but not so good at hating a person.

When the same-sex marriage referendum comes around, if it is fought over giving rights to “the gays” it’ll lose. But if it is about giving rights to “you know, Maura’s youngest, Sean,” it’ll pass.

 
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The Pro-Life Amendment of 1983: an alternative history.

Posted by Jason O on Aug 16, 2014 in Fiction, Irish Politics

But for Deputy Martin Faraday, it could all have been so different. The Irish government, pressurised by a politically active Pro Life Campaign (PLC), would still have held a referendum in 1983 to insert an anti-abortion clause into Ireland’s constitution. The 8th amendment to the constitution would still have overwhelmingly passed, declaring that the state would vindicate and defend the right to life of the unborn. Then Ireland would have continued on its “Do as I say, not as I do” way, turning a blind eye to its women leaving the jurisdiction to seek abortions in the UK. The PLC would celebrate their surreal victory as the one pro-life organisation in the world which celebrates not what happens to a foetus, but where it happens. An Irish solution, as it were, to an Irish problem.

The problem, however, was that Martin Faraday was that rare beast in Irish politics, a politician who actually believed what he said. A devout Catholic, the young deputy from Kilkenny was tall, handsome, charismatic, and had led his native county to victory in the GAA hurling championship in 1979. Although socially conservative, Faraday nevertheless had respect on the liberal left for his consistency, speaking out just as strongly on issues of poverty and on opposition to the death penalty. Many spoke of him as a future cabinet minister, perhaps even party leader.

The problem, political correspondents muttered to each other over a pint in the Dail bar, was that Faraday wouldn’t play ball. He wouldn’t keep quiet when it was wise to do so. He had been a key player in forcing the government to hold the referendum, and now he was going to take the outcome of the referendum to its logical conclusion.

The Protection of Life (Border Controls) bill of 1984, prepared by Faraday with a group of pro-life barristers, was placed before the Dail formally by him in a private capacity. The purpose, he told the house, was to implement the imperative in article 40.3 of the constitution. The state was committed to “defending and vindicating the right to life of the unborn, as far as practicable”.

This bill is, he declared, the practicable means of doing so. To the horror of both his own party and the opposition parties, all nominally pro-life and supporting the new amendment in its intent, the young deputy outlined a proposed system of border controls for pregnant women. All doctors would be required to place newly pregnant women on a national register, allowing the state to track each pregnancy to its completion. Any pregnant woman would require a special exit visa from the state, and would be examined upon her return to the jurisdiction to ensure that an abortion had not been procured. Aborting a foetus whilst abroad would result in a criminal conviction and a life imprisonment for both the woman and any individual who knowingly assisted her.

“If you oppose this bill,” he summed up, “you are not pro-life. By opposing abortion in Ireland but supporting the right to seek abortion abroad, you are just slightly less pro-choice. But you are not pro-life.”

The bill received major international media coverage, with many speculating that it would never pass. Both government and opposition spokespeople, speaking off the record, dismissed it as totally impracticable. But they hadn’t counted on Faraday, who mobilised the PLC once again, bringing to bear even greater pressure than had been brought on individual TDs and senators to enact the original amendment. First, politicians were publicly lobbied, harassed and cajoled into supporting  “the Faraday bill” at least being put to a vote in both houses. What could be more reasonable, the PLC asked, than at least having parliament debate the deputy’s proposals?

Once that hurdle had been passed, and the bill was allowed be put to the floor, the campaign really started. The PLC publicly identified who was voting for and against. Parish priests singled out local politicians who failed to commit. TDs’ houses and family members were picketed, and the Catholic hierarchy, deeply wary of the bill, nevertheless came out in favour after threats from the laity.

Charles J. Haughey, who found the bill to be deeply objectionable, did what he usually did, and threw his support fully behind it on the basis that it was causing chaos for the Taoiseach, Garrett Fitzgerald, within his own party, and that was grounds enough. A number of Fianna Fail TDs refused to support the bill and were expelled for “conduct unbecoming a member of Fianna Fail”.

With the governing coalition, pro-lifers in Fine Gael and Labour held the majority, and demanded support. Fitzgerald kept his cards close, until the day of the vote, when he stood and announced that such a law went completely against the republican principles to which he subscribed, and he would therefore “stand by the republic” and vote against the bill, announcing a free vote and his resignation as Taoiseach.

The bill passed the Dail with a clear majority. The minority of deputies from across the political spectrum who had voted against the bill emerged from Leinster House to a large crowd of pro-life demonstrators. A small, unrepresentative number proceeded to rush the deputies, and there was a prolonged fight in the car park until baton wielding Gardaí managed to rescue them.

The new Taoiseach immediately appointed Martin Faraday as minister for justice with a clear responsibility for implementing his bill.

In the weeks that followed, abortion clinics in the UK reported a large upturn in Irish women seeking abortion. International TV crews gathered in Irish ports and airports to watch crowds of pro-life vigilantes carry out impromptu “inspections” of women leaving the country whom the suspected of being with child. BBC TV news rang footage, which was repeated worldwide, of a pregnant woman being called a “whore” by a group of self-appointed sash-wearing “Unborn Protection Officer” middle-aged men in Dublin airport, before being hit with a bottle. She later died that evening. The child was not saved. Faraday, to the surprise of many, publicly condemned the attack and the vigilantism, and demanded the prosecution of the individuals concerned.

The bill came into law within weeks, and soon large numbers of women were being denied exit permission on the grounds of suspicion that they may be seeking to terminate their pregnancies. The PLC celebrated (with non-alcoholic sparkling wine and orange juice) a sharp fall, in the first six months of the bill’s operation, in the number of Irish women registering for terminations in the UK. Faraday applauded the result as proof of the will of the Irish people, as expressed in the amendment, being carried out.

In the north of Ireland, the unionist parties, both strongly pro-life, attacked the law anyway, as proof of Rome Rule, in that wonderfully first principle gymnastic way at which Northern Irish politicians excel.

Then Marie-Louise Dufour, a young French 21 year old woman living as an au-pair for a middle class family in north Dublin, got pregnant by the family’s 19 year old son.

Dufour, on visiting a doctor and discovering her predicament, had decided to return to France and seek a termination. Oblivious of the Faraday law, she was stunned to find herself arrested at Dublin Airport and charged under the Faraday act.

Within half a day, the French foreign minister was on the phone to his colleague, demanding her release. The story was the lead item on French television news.

The Attorney General advised the cabinet that the Faraday act was correctly applied. The 8th amendment did not distinguish between the nationality of the mother or the unborn child, even if the foetus was half Irish.

The cabinet decided to instruct the AG to approach the Director of Public Prosecutions to see if the case could be dropped. The DPP, who had opposed the Faraday law, nevertheless was committed to enforcing the law, and this, he told the AG, was a clear cut case.

The Taoiseach received a phone call from President Mitterand. It was not a pleasant conversation. The French President left the Taoiseach in no doubt that France would not permit one of its citizens to be treated this way.

On returning to the cabinet, the AG suggested a last ditch appeal to the Supreme Court to overturn the act. At this point, Faraday resigned, questioning his fellow cabinet members’ commitment to the unborn, including that “beautiful creature inside Marie-Louise Dufour. That is whom we are fighting for.” Faraday was met by a huge crowd from the PLC who hung on his every word.

That afternoon, to massive media coverage, the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau, accompanied by support ships, became visible off Dublin Bay. The boom of patrolling Super Etendard fighters could be heard in the city. The Irish Naval Service ship LE Aoife was despatched to “escort” the French ships, but proceeded to have an engine failure and had to be towed back to port by one of the French escorts.

The Taoiseach quickly contacted President Reagan, asking for assistance and perhaps even US protection. Reagan, although sympathetic, pointed out that the US had been alarmed at Mitterand’s election in 1981 and was threading very carefully to keep France in NATO, and so didn’t really want to cause waves. He also pointed out that the story was getting awful coverage in the US.

President Mitterand then called the Taoiseach again, and suggested that as it seemed a legal resolution was impossible, France had a suggestion. Initially appalled, the Taoiseach consented.

Marie-Louise Dufour was moved to Garda headquarters, and at 3am on Sunday morning a helicopter carrying French commandos from the Clemenceau carried out a lightening raid. Gardaí on duty had been warned 10 minutes previously by the commissioner that they were not to offer resistance, and the French commandos, as agreed with the Taoiseach, were carrying unloaded machine guns. Nominally under duress (but after offering tea and coffee, which was politely refused, although a few chocolate digestives were received gratefully), the duty officer led the commandos to Dufour’s cell, where she was handed over to the French soldiers, and they departed.

The government protested formally, and a large PLC demonstration had to be beaten back by a large Garda force at the French embassy.

The cabinet then discussed repealing the Faraday act to prevent a future occurrence. The AG grimaced. It won’t make a difference, he said. The act, by its operation, has proven that it is actually practicable to detain pregnant women. It has actually reduced the number of Irish women seeking abortions. Even without a law, the state still has an onus to act to defend the unborn. It’s arguably illegal to dismantle the Faraday system. There is only one real option.

A week later, the Taoiseach went on TV to announce that the 8th amendment as currently structured was causing the country serious harm. He announced a referendum to repeal it.

The PLC, led by Faraday, mobilised a massive campaign of opposition. Polls showed overwhelming opposition to repeal.

Three weeks later, 62% of voters voted to repeal. In the exit poll conducted on the same day, 62% of people actually speaking to pollsters said they were against repeal, and had voted against.

The End.

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The See-Nothing Party Man.

Envelope? What envelope?

Envelope? What envelope?

He’s not personally corrupt. Oh, he’s sat down with developers and followed up their queries with planners, but he does that for ordinary punters too. Nothing wrong with asking a legitimate question for a constituent, as long as you don’t try to get the planner to do anything wrong, and he doesn’t.

Elected to the council after the carry-on of the 1980s and 1990s, he doesn’t get approached for “favours”. He’s the new breed of the party’s councillor who wrinkles his nose at reading about yet another former party elected rep being done for corruption.

Yet don’t ask him to fight corruption. Don’t ask him to report anything he thinks is dodgy, and he sees enough of it, to the Guards or anyone else, because that’s just not done. He’s been known to turn on his heel walking into a toilet at the the council, when he sees a colleague receiving “papers” from a developer just before a vote.

In fact, that’s the thing. He actually spends time trying to avoid learning about corruption, because he can’t report what he doesn’t know.

“Trains to where, judge? Auschwitz? I just set the timetables. Couldn’t tell you what was in them. Was it strange that they were coming back empty? Do you know, I never thought to ask.”

 
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Europe elects its first Prime Minister and nobody notices. But they will.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 23, 2014 in European Parliament Elections 2014, European Union, Irish Politics

JCJ2Sometimes it’s the little things. In 1989, after failing to win a majority in the Irish general election, Charles J. Haughey was forced to formally resign as Taoiseach. People forget this now, because Haughey remained as acting Taoiseach until Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats did the business and assembled a Dail majority to re-elect him as Taoiseach proper.

But it set an interesting precedent, because it means that in 2016 Enda Kenny could return to the Dail with a mere 40-50 TDs, and remain indefinitely as head of a Fine Gael minority government if there is not an agreed majority to replace him. It’s not enough to lose the election: the Dail has to agree on who actually won, and looking at the recent RED C poll, that could be anybody’s guess.

All because of the Haughey precedent of 27 years previously.

The little things matter, and the nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission is going to be another one of those things that will snowball into something much bigger in the future.

Juncker was nominated in Dublin last March by the European People’s Party, the largest centre-right grouping in the European Parliament, and the party of both Angela Merkel and Enda Kenny. The Socialists, Liberals, Greens and the Left in the European Parliament also nominated candidates. All with the same understanding: that whichever party won the most seats would supply the next President of the Commission.

It’s this which large elements of the media (and, it would seem, David Cameron) missed. Even now, when you ask people about the European Parliament (you know, the way you do, down the pub) you get back the “powerless talking shop” quip.

Except it isn’t true. It used to be. But now the EP can hire and fire the Commission, block or amend almost any EU law, including the EU budget, and now, as David Cameron has discovered, threaten to veto any European Council nominee for President. The European Parliament just took on Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and beat it. Powerless talking shop? They’ll be wearing “Our Parliament can beat up your prime minister” tee shirts in the Espace Leopold this week.

For years, Europe’s leaders kept getting stick every time they negotiated a new treaty. Europe, they were told, isn’t democratic. Their response was to throw a few bones down the stairs into the basement where they kept their pretend parliament. But nobody seemed to notice that the parliament was gobbling up everything it was given, and growing, and suddenly there’s a banging on the basement door and Europe’s leaders discover there’s a fully grown parliament standing in front of them, and it’s not happy living in the basement anymore.

Jean Claude Juncker can see the new reality. For the first time ever, we have a European Commission President who didn’t get his job purely from the gift of the EU’s presidents and prime ministers, sitting around a dining table and holding an Election by After Eight. His name was one the table early, picked by the EPP, and the Parliament was adamant. The Council has the power to nominate whomever it wants, but Parliament was only going to accept one name.

Juncker is Parliament’s man. He knows it, they know it, and if he wants a second term, he’ll have to remember it too, and being the savvy old operator he is, there’s no doubt he will. He is the prime minister of a majority of the members of the European Parliament. They are the hand that feeds, not the member states.

After all, do you know who (and only who) has the power to sack Juncker? The Parliament. Not the member states. Yet another bone the member states threw down the steps without thinking, hoping it would keep the shouting from the basement down. Now look what they’ve done.

The whole affair can be looked at two ways. One, the British way, is of an old Euro Federalist playing the game much better than Britain’s poor outclassed prime minister. Britain outsmarted once again by devious backroom continental dealers with their compromises and Everybody Must win A Prize ways.

Or there’s another way.

How was Juncker’s outgoing predecessor, Jose Manual Barroso picked ten years ago? The answer: out of the blue days before the vote, pretty much unknown to anyone who wasn’t Portuguese.

Yet those of us who actually care about this stuff (the Trekkies of international democratic politics) have known that Juncker, the Socialists’ Martin Schulz and the Liberals’ Guy Verhofstadt were the names on the table. In a debate before the European elections, transmitted on telly (with an RTE host, by the way) and hardly watched by anybody, Schulz said very clearly, with Juncker to his side, that the next President of the European Commission would come from one of the candidates on the stage.

This wasn’t some secret backroom deal. This was the most transparent process for we have ever had for choosing a Commission President ever, and whilst it’s true that most Europeans didn’t even vote in the European Elections, that’s a choice in itself. The whole point of being a democracy is that you can’t make people participate in it, only have the right to participate.

But this all matters. In 2019, when the next European Elections come around, will the media and the member states pay closer attention to the nominees of the European parties? You’re damn right they will. This is a game changer.

 
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The self destructive tendency of Fine Gael and Labour.

Posted by Jason O on Jul 5, 2014 in Irish Politics

I’ve written about it before, that moment in 2016 when around 50 Fine Gael and Labour TDs will go through one of the most emotionally devastating moments of their lives as they are ejected by the voters at the count. Many will never hold political office again. Some will take years for both they and their families to recover from that day. A small number never will.

What’s even more revealing is that, having fixed the economy and received public anger for it, they will then hand over the fixed economy, the increasing tax revenues, and ALL political power to their opponents in Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein.

What fascinates me is the sheer inability, through capture by institutional inertia, of those FG and Labour TDs to do anything about it. They are just going to wait for the kicking because they’re so paralysed by “The way things have always been done” that they will literally let their own personal lives be devastated by it.

People like me have the luxury of banging on about political reform, and political hacks will always tell you, correctly, that nobody ever got elected because they were going to reform the Seanad. That’s true. But what never ceases to amaze me is how this government in particular has been unable to grasp how political reform could actually be used as a weapon to help them get re-elected.

They don’t seem to understand that by centralising all power, they have turned the rest of the non-cabinet political system, from Oireachtas through the councils, into a blame-free no-responsibility taxpayer-subsidised platform for the people who want to take their seats off them. It’s hard to imagine how they could help their political opponents any more than they are now. Why can’t they see this?

If Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein had to elect a load of directly elected mayors with specific responsibility to set the property tax and local budgets, and who in office were barred from running for the Oireachtas, the property tax would be their problem. It would also deprive FF and SF of many of their best candidates for the Dail. Property tax bills, with the photo, signature and party affiliation of the mayor could be arriving through letterboxes all over the country, reminding voters that these guys have to live in the real world of spending and taxing choices too.

Instead, the stultifying inability of Fine Gael and Labour to do anything new is going to sleepwalk them into electoral annihilation, and they seem incapable of anything else.

 
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An Occasional Guide to Irish Politics: The Naysayers.

It’s a hard wired genetic response, whether it is to exploiting natural resources offshore or fracking or even postcodes. A section of the country just can’t help itself, and comes out in opposition to everything. There is even a standard pattern:

1. A proposal is made by a company or body. The benefits in terms of revenue or employment tend to be so over-hyped as to trigger scepticism everywhere, even amongst people in favour of the project. Why do we have to oversell everything?

2. In the area concerned, muttering starts, normally led by a local nut who votes No in every referendum and disconcertingly mentions the Bilderberg Group and fluoride in every conversation. But he’s retired with time on his hands and is a wiz with mail merge, having the database from previous local campaigns such as “Stop Dublin stealing our clouds!” and “No to WiFi near St. Enda’s. There are children there for God’s sake!”

3. The usual malcontents, Sebastian from South Dublin, furious with Daddy for running away with Olga from Olgastan and making Mummy cry and tell them that “they have to be the man of the house now” after a bottle of Tia Maria during Murder She Wrote, arrive to “smash capitalism” (Daddy was a capitalist) and stand up for the “ordinary people” in the area.

4. The local opposition TDs and councillors start calling for an independent public inquiry because that’s what they always call for, and it’s not like they have to fund it out of their expenses, is it?

5. The planning process gets bogged down in court injunctions and walkouts and demands for a tribunal into the planning process. Vague allegations of corruption are applauded by the usual paranoid mob. The integrity of the process hinges entirely on whether it agrees with the No side.

6. Planning permission is granted. It is appealed to An Bord Plenala. They approve it. It is appealed to the High Court, then the Supreme Court, then the European Court. Judicial corruption is alleged every step of the way. Huge legal bills are run up by the protesters who then complain of being economically ruined by huge legal bills they ran up travelling through a legal system they “knew” to be corrupt in the first place.

7. The opposition wins the general election, and sets up a public inquiry because it has nothing better to do. The opponents of the project do not contest the election declaring the political process corrupt and “exclusionary to ordinary people”. You know, like voters. On polling day a group of young protesters meet to beam positive energy at the ballot boxes as they are carried out by the Guards.

8. The public inquiry approves the project. The protesters accuse it of being corrupt, and announce a campaign of civil disobedience, which seems to involve a lot of interpretive dance and giant Macnas style heads. One protester sprains his wrist when a giant Che Guevara head falls on him. He sues the state for not banning giant heads of South American communists.

9. The project starts with much civil disobedience, delaying the project’s completion by years. When it is completed, and starts providing tax revenue to the state much later than planned because of the delays, the people who delayed it are first in the queue with demands as to how the money should be spent.

10. 20 years later, when the project is no longer viable, the people who originally opposed it demand it be subsidised by the state as a vital contribution to the local economy.

 
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Campaign to stop Micheal Martin being bullied!

Posted by Jason O on Jun 23, 2014 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Bullying is a terrible thing.

Poor Micheal has been bullied by girls named Mary, given a wedgie by a group of older boys who call themselves The Senators, and a boy in a wheelchair recently threatened to roll over his foot. For 50c a week, we can save up and buy a good sturdy broom handle that we can put up the back of Micheal’s jumper. It’s not as good as a real spine, but sure, it’s better than nothing. I mean, just look at that sad little face. Ah Jesus.

 
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Dr. Kevin Byrne’s “Now or Soon”.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 23, 2014 in European Union, Irish Politics

Check out Dr Kevin Byrne’s “Now or Soon” blog here, where he looks at some interesting issues of public policy. And no, that’s not an oxymoron.

Kevin comes from the book-readin’ wing of Fianna Fail, and so is watched carefully at all times by his party peers.

 
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Progressive Democrats for Joan Burton.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 19, 2014 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Joan Burton winning is essential to the public good – and we are proud to endorse her.

It might seem unusual for us, as former Progressive Democrats, used to being roundly castigated by Joan Burton, to take the step of supporting her bid for the leadership of her party. In truth, it is not a step we are taking because we love Joan Burton – rather, because we love our country.

The nation is at a crossroads, and it would take very little for those in the Government parties who are more concerned with their own seats than the future of Ireland to be blown by the political breeze away from the path of sober austerity and onto the road to reckless populism. There are those who now seriously argue that the nation should abandon its projected €2billion in budgetary cuts this October, and instead return to the bad old days of handouts, grants, and goodies for the preferred children of Ireland’s chattering quangocracy.

Alex White is amongst them. Joan Burton, so far as we can tell, is not.

Minister Burton has a proud record at cabinet. Since her election and subsequent appointment to cabinet office, she has largely cast aside the populist bleating that defined her term in opposition, and dedicated herself to the task of rationalising and reducing the state’s bloated and obscene welfare budget. She has done so quietly and efficiently, coming to media prominence only in defence of those necessary and judicious reductions in spending that have provoked scorn in those who judge every policy on its emotional, rather than economic appeal.

There are those in her party whose reaction to welfare cuts, the reduction in our outrageous levels of child benefit, or the long-overdue slashing of funding to spurious agencies and activist groups would have been to abandon their post, as we saw with Roisin Shorthall. There are those today who would challenge Minister Burton whose reaction and rhetoric poses the same threat – instability driven by base emotion.

The temptation to be perceived as “compassionate” instead of competent, or to bow to the taunts of those who exist to denounce basic mathematics as a form of cruelty, is growing in the Labour Party, many of who yet cling to the notion that the numbers on the national balance sheet will improve if it is simply wished for hard enough. Minister Burton is the one candidate who has shown the ability to put her head ahead of her heart, and though we do not share all of her views, we commend her for that.

Then there is the matter of stability. The nation needs sound and stable Government – a trusting and enduring partnership between the two parties that have been entreated to serve. Minister Burton has shown that she can work around the cabinet table, and that when called upon, she can enact the policy preferences of her senior partners with as much enthusiasm and energy as those that are dearest to her own heart. She has shown herself a servant to the nation first, and the narrow demands of partisan bickering a distant second.

We live in a time when mature and sober politics are under threat as never before. Leaders face a daily barrage of hysterical tweets and emotional emails and withering whines from the opinion pages of newspapers. There are those who would redevote Labour to what they see as the deserving classes – a sector of society whose relative poverty and pleaded helplessness is seen as a reason to cast aside the austerity programme that has rescued the nation in the cause of more demeaning and expensive handouts. That would be an error for the country.

We trust Minister Burton to pursue the liberal agenda that we agree with her on. We trust her to be sober, judicious, and responsible with the public purse. We trust her to subordinate the emotive demands of the online horde to the inescapable demands of the national ledger. We trust her, in short, to become the historic figure she was born to be, and not the partisan player she might be tempted to become.

Of her opponent, little need be said. When given a choice between a putative Tánaiste who has delivered for her nation, made the toughest choices, defended and embraced economic reality, and a man who was a student Marxist-Leninist, the choice is clear.

As proud former Progressive Democrats, we stand with Mrs. Burton. We ask all right-thinking people to do the same.

The author has requested anonymity.

 
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Sketch: Some News.

Posted by Jason O on Jun 18, 2014 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

A house in Dublin 4.

Stephen:     Mum, Dad, can you both sit down for a minute? Mum, can you put down that Irish                           Times crossword. I have to tell you something.

Mum:          Is it important Stephen, I really have to meet Susan about that Ivana Bacik                                        fundraiser.

Stephen:    Please, it won’t take a moment, it’s very important.

Dad:            Go ahead son.

Stephen:    Mum, Dad, I’ve wanted to tell you this for so long, but I…

Dad:            Take your time son.

Mum:          Stephen, you’re frightening us, are you ill?

Stephen:    I’m…well, I’m not gay.

Mum:          What?

Dad:            Oh God, not us.

Stephen:    I’m sorry, I’ve thought long and hard, I thought I might have been, but I’m not.

Mum:         I think I’m going to be sick! What will the neighbours say? I was only talking to                              David Norris at that Abbey fundraiser last week. How can you do this to us?

Dad:           Sophie, please…are you sure, son, are you sure you’re not confused, I mean you’re                       only nineteen, you’re still experiencing new things. I mean, what about Robert, you                     both seemed so happy together.

Stephen:   Yeah, I know, I really tried, but then Rebecca and I…

Mum:         Rebecca, that girl who you brought home last Easter? I thought she was just a                               friend?

Stephen:   And she was, but we got closer, and, actually, last easter…

Mum:        That hussy seduced you, that’s what she did. Don’t tell me that hussy seduced you                        in this house! This house, where Mary Robinson held her very first fundraiser! You                      have brought nothing but shame…

Dad:          Sophie, please! You’re not without blame here! Who bought him that 24 boxset                              when he was eleven? You wouldn’t let me buy him that Barbara Streisand                                     collection. And you kept that Bette Midler CD collection for yourself! Look son, what                   ever happens, we both love you, no matter what way you want to live your life.

Stephen:  Thanks Dad. There is one other thing.

Dad:          What is it, son?

Stephen:   I’ve joined Fianna Fail.

Dad:           Sophie, where’s my shotgun?

Copyright © 2014 Jason O Mahony All rights reserved. Email: Jason@JasonOMahony.ie.