I was at a splendid dinner party on Saturday night. Two of the guests were from Tipperary. Shortly after downing a rather splendid Black Muscat the conversation turned to the Irish Presidential election. I asked the South-of-the-Border dinner guests who they might be voting for. The response was a tad surprising. “The last thing we need, at this time, is a new President…the country doesn’t need a President. It’s all a waste of money.”
Quite. But, then again, that’s what countries do…waste money on “heads of state”.
But the point they made was that this all seems like a particular waste of money at this particular time in Ireland’s history.
Ireland, before Greece, Portugal and Italy, was a financial laughing stock. The light was shined on an economy that was, during the Tiger years, as Michael Lewis put it in the New Yorker, feeding upon itself. Ridiculous property greed, bizarre business ventures, ostentatious consumption. In short, the Irish rich made ridiculous fools of themselves.
And now they are electing a new President to preside (that is the word to be used in this context) over the shadow of its former self.
The one redeeming aspect of all of this is that the Northern candidates – “Dana” and former IRA leader Martin McGuiness – are hardly shining. Dana has been shaken by some media tittle tattle about her personal life (the BBC has refused to tell us what it is, but I’m not that interested). McGuiness has been shaken by the fact that the media, and general populace in the South, don’t seem to adhere to the norms of new-Northern political correctness. In short they don’t abide to the political rule that the Shinners’ past shouldn’t be rattled in front of them at every opportunity.
Dana and McGuinness, ironically, are suffering from similar problems. Dana is dogged by her blind adherence to a Catholic faith that one of the most Catholic countries in the world seems to be losing (along with its wealth). McGuinness is plagued by the fact that his IRA denials and public sympathy for IRA murder victims ring hollow – following years of obfuscation about his involvement.
Ireland may be a shadow of its former self in the post credit-crunch world. But it can hold its head up high for spotting bullshit when it sees it.
- Battle for Irish presidency begins in earnest | Henry McDonald (guardian.co.uk)
- Martin McGuiness and space debris (politics.ie)
- A presidential race you don’t want to miss (trevorcook.typepad.com)