I had the great pleasure of visiting Blarney Castle yesterday. What a magnificent place, it’s almost magical. However, after facing the terrific climb to the top of the castle, I did not bring myself to kiss the stone, for in the words of George Bernard Shaw,
“….it is not necessary for me to seek eloquence at Blarney….my natural gifts in that direction being sufficient, if not somewhat excessive.”

Not really – in fact, my natural gifts in that direction are somewhat questionable – the actual reason for refraining from kissing the stone was due to the horrific rumours I’d heard about the treatment of the stone by devious miscreants. How true those rumours are, I’ll never know, but I didn’t want to find out, much less smear them all over my mouth.

The day before, Ireland became aware of its new President. Labour man-of-letters, Michael D. Higgins is now the 9th President of Ireland. Fair play to him, it was pretty much a certainty from the beginning. Well, that is until failed businessman Sean Gallagher inexplicably emerged as the front-runner for a while. Mr Gallagher could well have been crowned, I mean, inaugurated as our new President, if it were not for Martin McGuinness’ revelation that Gallagher had been involved in some shifty financial dealings as part of Fianna Fáil, thus reminding the electorate of all that Gallagher stood for.

And so it was, Michael D. Higgins swept home to victory, leaving Gallagher in his wake, with your man from ‘up-there’ coming in third – can you imagine what might have happened had a northerner been elected again? Perish the thought. They’re not allowed the vote, why should they be allowed to be Uachtarán?


So now we should see the development of the “New Ireland” that Michael D. Higgins of the Labour Party envisions. He wants to examine and re-examine Irishness, to redefine it. He will invest in our national character, our predilection for the arts. One wonders will he continue to trot out the line of Enda Kenny that “Ireland is open for business” (was it ever “closed”?) as though he were the pimp of the nation?

From my own point of view, I truly hope that Higgins does not forget the Irish people of the counties of Derry, Antrim, Down, Armagh, Tyrone and Fermanagh and I hope he finds room for them in his re-imagination of Irishness. Partitionists from both sides of the border may chime and chide that he’s just for the 26 counties, (that’s the Republic, ya hear!), but they are deluded. A state is nothing without its citizens.

5 Responses so far.

  1. Boo Radley says:

    Glad to see Higgins getting the job myself. I think you might know that I wouldn’t have voted for Mr. McGuinness had I been in Ireland. Having said that, I do acknowledge that he played a vital role in the election by exposing Mr. Gallagher for the Gombeen man he clearly is.

    Agreed on your other point about passport holding citizens of Ireland (this blog entry and the one after it). Mind you I’d like to see everyone on the island have a say what it means to be Irish in the 21st century. Let’s hope that the answer to the question is not ‘apathetic’.

  2. Ryan Kelly says:

    Cheers Paul.

    As you know, I’d be broadly republican but am reticent about categorizing myself party-wise.

    Let’s hope that apathy doesn’t prevail indeed. Which is why I think that there should be a huge drive in the north to encourage Irish citizens to partake in the affairs of their country.

    You might find it interesting that I actually emailed the SDLP and Sinn Féin outlining my concern and desire. SF got back to me the next day. The SDLP have yet to reply – that was over a week ago now. Not only are they appointing lethargic cardboard characters as their leader, they’re neglecting the concerns of potential voters.

  3. Boo Radley says:

    Not in the least surprised about SF vs SDLP response times. Number one, your concerns would be right in line with SF and their ultimate goals and number two, SF have proven to be a formidable adversary to other parties by their sheer hard work.

    The SDLP, if they are not wary, could find themselves becoming increasingly isolated as a party. I don’t think that would be a good thing for that part of the Island as moderate leadership on both sides of the divide would be preferential from my point of view and it would not be great to become a two party system like that of England (not including the anomaly of the short lived ‘Clegg factor’) or the USA.

    Perhaps though the problem is more to do with the apathy we mentioned before extending to the political classes and like most political parties the SDLP doesn’t give a damn about the individual voter. SF, on the other hand, may not be entirely different but I suspect they are opportunists in some respects (as I think may have been highlighted in the past) and certainly would not risk losing even one vote as every vote they obtain, naturally, furthers their own agenda.

    I personally think that infamous day Bertie and co. popped up to visit the SDLP not so long ago with the rather ominous, and almost aggressive, aim of merging the parties might have been the nail in their political coffin, especially with what has happened to Ireland economically and socially.

    When it comes to the so called democracy we live in the elected officials in any party have anything but the people in mind. Many surely start out idealistic but the monster that is the political realm soon devours all sense of hope, justice and indeed empathy. Of course their are exceptions but I fear they are in a small minority.

    I just hope that the Occupy movements (especially in Ireland) find a clear voice and make demands that are reasonable. Capitalism does need reform, anyone who says otherwise is a delusional fool or has a vested interest in things staying as they are, but when people start saying shit like ‘no more corporations’ it just damages the public perception of such movements. Corporations are not inherently bad, it is the people running them and the influence they have over political decision making that is the problem. Reform, reform, reform. Reform capitalism, reform corporate practice, reform politics and hold politicians accountable (to the point where they can be voted OUT as well as in before waiting for a general election after the damage is already done) and most of all reform the damn culture of family politics on this Island. Stop fucking voting for a party out of some misplaced sense of loyalty because you’re family always have voted for them. The civil war ended a long time ago and it’s time to move on.

    I can see why apathy has spread like a zombie virus throughout Ireland. When a system requires you to follow its rules to voice concern and demand the changes you want to make to that system but that system is fundamentally flawed and designed to self preserve it often feels like pissing in the wind. At the very least I think it might be time for a new Republic. Look at France, which one are they on now? Fifth if I’m not mistaken. Ireland’s constitution is old, dated and dieing a very public, painful and sad death. Don’t even get me started on the separation of church and state in the constitution – or rather the lack of.

    Anyway, quite the meandering rant there. Keep up the blog posts, I’m enjoying them.

  4. Ryan Kelly says:

    Glad you’re enjoying them.

    Sinn Féin abandoned dogma for pragmatism years ago and in a sense it has paid off – they’re in power in the north and they’re growing ever so slightly in the south. They’ve progressed since 1998, although anti-agreement groups state, correctly, that we are still under British rule, and Sinn Féin are merely implementing that rule – including cuts, while fighting against cuts in the south; two different approaches for two different states: pragmatism. Some might call it hypocritical, treacherous.
    However, they’re not forcing people to vote for them, so they must be doing something right, somewhere.

    The SDLP, in contrast, are already becoming an irrelevance in nationalism and northern politics judging by their recent electoral performances. The sheer staleness of their leaders since Durkan (maybe Hume) is symptomatic of their decline and even tactical unionist voters are unsure about them, which is interesting. I just found it shocking that a party which proclaims to be a people’s party, and a nationalist one at that, failed to even have the courtesy of issuing me a polite response regarding my email. They’re out of touch with the masses.

    Regarding the occupy movements in Ireland – people are simply ignorant and I’m not sure if there’s really a cure for that. Some of the things that I’ve seen, in Galway anyway, are just ridiculous.
    For example a group of 4 people under the Occupy banner recently held up traffic outside Galway City for 20 minutes or so as a statement – not sure what about exactly, it wasn’t at all clear what their purpose was. To increase awareness? Or piss off people who actually have jobs to go to?

    We need an overhaul of the constitution all right and it has to be done with all the citizens of Ireland in mind. That’s for another day!

  5. Ryan Kelly says:

    Thought I might just note that, over a month later, the SDLP have failed to answer me at all.

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