Thursday, May 01, 2008


Thursday Thoughts: Taoiseach's tune more like a broken record

I don't know what it is about Bertie Ahern but it's as if the whole world wants us to proclaim him as the great Irish hero of modern times. If it's not RTE's Charlie Bird blathering on about him going down in the blooming history books, or the BBC going on about what a remarkable conciliator he is, it's our friends across the Atlantic getting in on the act.

Yes Wednesday saw the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern addressing a joint session of the US Congress and proclaiming that "Ireland is at peace". (Ireland might be free from the terrorism of old but check out some of Dublin's streets on a dark night and you'd see we are clearly not at peace)

The speech apparently went down well with the US Congress as Mr Ahern received a number of standing ovations. The text of it is available here. Opinions on the speech over here seem to be quite divided. For instance an RTE poll asks, "How was the Taoiseach's speech before the US Congress?" The results as I write this are...

Made me feel proud to be Irish - 42%
Kissed too much US arse - 41%
Not his best, but not his worst - 7%

Read his script too much - 10%

Personally speaking, I was less interested in whether or not he was kissing arse and more interested in this aspect of the Taoiseach's speech...

"It is profoundly encouraging that we are seeing the members of the European Union continuing to rise together as a force for development, for stability, for peace in the world.

"Soon, the Irish people will vote on a new reform treaty that aims to make the European Union work even more effectively, both internally and in the wider world. I trust in their wisdom to support and to believe in Europe, as they always have."


Need I remind you Mr Ahern that you were invited to give a speech to the US Congress in recognition of your part in the peace process, NOT to give your opinions on the hugely significant Lisbon Treaty which will determine Ireland's relationship with the EU. I think it's an absolute disgrace that he decided to use the occasion as a platform to beg for the Irish public's support. Pathetic!

I suppose it shows how nervous the Irish government are that the Irish electorate will, quite rightly, reject the Treaty due to it not being substandard.

Of course that won't be picked up by many media outlets because right now we're entering into Ahern's final days as Taoiseach and we're all supposed to lament the departure of such a fine statesman. Am I the only one still concerned about the findings of the Mahon tribunal? It's like that's been completely swept under the carpet. Has everybody forgotten that's why he's on his way?

He's not the Messiah...

On Tuesday, the 6th of May, Mr Ahern will tender his resignation to President McAleese while the following day the Dáil is expected to vote Brian Cowen in to succeed him. Mr Cowen will then travel to Áras an Uachtaráin to receive the seal of office before naming the new Cabinet. I'm sure that over the next week or so we'll hear about what a great job Mr Ahern has done, what a great thing it would be if Ireland endorses the Lisbon Treaty, the good times that will beckon with Brian and his buddies, and so on and so forth...

All I ask is that people put things into perspective. We have a health service that is still in dire straits. We have seen increasing incidents of serious criminal activity. We have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty coming up which the government seemingly doesn't want you to read about and which it hopes you will endorse on blind faith alone. We have had our Prime Minister embroiled in an embarrassing cash scandal since last year's election.

In other words, Mr Ahern does not depart from office leaving Ireland as some near-Utopian society the way some commentators appear to be making out. I will give the outgoing Taoiseach credit for his role in the peace process which he undoubtedly played a big part in, however I will not allow the wool to be pulled over my eyes and buy into the Fianna Fáil spin machine that everything here is hunky-dory.

Mr Ahern and his party can sing their tune about the peace process for as long as they want, but a more balanced view of the past needs to be given, and the same must apply to the issues of the present day. In the final lines of Mr Ahern's speech to the US Congress he remarked...

"In history, in politics and in life, there are no ends, only new beginnings."

Well I would be of the opinion that in politics, there are no new beginnings, only new means to an end.

The next few weeks in Irish politics are of massive importance to the future of the country, and it is of vital importance that we the Irish people see through the same old tired cliches, the agendas, the PR, and the BS, and pay close attention to the substance of the issues at hand so as to determine our destinies as best as we possibly can.


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