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Pól Ó Lorcáin
Paul Larkin

Chroniclers are privileged to enter where they list, to come and go through keyholes, to ride upon the wind, to overcome in their soarings up and down, all obstacles of distance, time and place.
Charles Dickens - Barnaby Rudge, Chapter The Ninth

Crisis? Let me tell you what the word crisis actually means.

Crisis is being stuck down a mine and you are either dead, or facing death, with the added torture that you know your relatives on the surface are dying a thousand deaths as they wait for news. Crisis is a media and journalistic Overclass which goes into feeding frenzy on happy clappy stories about Chilean miners who, thankfully, survive  but which completely ignores the real story about the  misery of mining for a living (see below). 

Crisis is where, in the western world, people become more and more obese – they are either Burger Kings or are “loving it” in Macdonalds - whilst the so called Third World cannot get the water and three  bowls of nourishment everyday that ensures the minimum survival of a family. Crisis is basic health services being decimated in poor areas all over Ireland so that cancers are not found in time and the mentally sick are thrown onto the streets.

Will you giveover with your crisis and loss of sovereignty!

Corrupt banks and bankers mugged us royally and regularly whilst we still had our supposed sovereignty.

During one of capitalisms all too regular periods of bust, as opposed to boom, the question of whether it is the AIB or the IMF that is pulling capitalism’s purse strings makes absolutely no difference to the lives of the vast majority of Irish people. Either way, the poor get stitched. You might not like this definition but I agree with the rich who say that “poor" is anyone who has no independent, and self perpetuating, source of income. Just imagine darling! They have no stocks or shares. How awful for them!

Thus, all this talk of the diminution of our sovereignty because we are, quite correctly, asking the European Central Bank for money is simply a diversion to stop us talking about more fundamental things. This Saturday's Irish Times (November 20th, 2010) is a classic example of this.

That paragon of radical change Steven Collins of the Irish Times

Since when did the ridiculously pompous Irish Times columnist Steven Collins care about Irish national sovereignty? In line with almost all the other journalists working for the Irish Times, he spent the whole period of the Troubles as an apologist for the most conservative and reactionary elements within pro British unionism and now he sits on, what he perceives to be, his patrician throne, bestowing plaudits or brickbats to our politicians depending on their fiscal rectitude.

Collins's whole image puts me in mind of an ancient stewed  prune – a concept that's been around for so long that it has become worthy of the name “fossil”.

His latest offering – “A sense of shame should spur us on to real change”

in this alleged week of crisis can be read here :

So what exactly is this real change?

My God!  It’s Enda Kenny who is that streak of hopeful light across Collins's sky, whilst former Blueshirt Taoiseach John Bruton is held up as the kind of  "careful" steward who will extricate us from the mess we fools have gotten ourselves into by voting Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin. This would be the same John Bruton who described England's Prince Charles - Prince of The Parachute Regiment - in such brownosing terms that even the English Times reached for its metaphorical sick bag

Don’t take my word for it watch –

In truth, and if pushed, Collins would not be able to name one fundamental ideological difference between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and another truth is that financial corruption and cronyism was almost as endemic in Collins’s party of choice (Fine Gael) as it was in Charlie Haughey's party. Moreover, the dogs in the street know that if the boot were on the other foot, with Fine Gael in office, they too would be running cap in hand to the European Central Bank and the IMF.   

In the meantime, whilst well heeled and permanently embedded journalists spew guff and wring their hands about how they want real change, read this account about miners trying to eke a living in Uganda:

“Didas Yuryahewa, bent double and waist-deep in water, holds his breath as he struggles to gouge out another shovel of stinking black mud. The air is thick with the bad-egg stench of hydrogen sulphide mixed with ammonia. The equatorial sun beats down on his naked back, leaving a salty sheen.”

See Guardian:

In fairness to Collins, and the Irish Times generally, he is very clear sighted about one particular thing; a thing that has effectively been the Irish Time’s raison d’etre since this newspaper began its existence, and that is the need to keep radical, irredentist Irish republican politics away from the reins of power. Lest we forget, this newspaper (that last week hypocritically invoked the men and women of the 1916 rising) actually called for the execution of the Sinn Fein/Citizen Army leadership in the days after the doomed but inspirational uprising of 1916:

"The State has struck but its work is not yet finished. The surgeon's knife has been put to the corruption in the body of Ireland and its course must not be stayed until the whole malignant growth has been removed."

This same colonial and reactionary mind set informs the “paper of record" to this day. This weekend the double centre page spread on our "Irish Crisis" contrives to launch an assault on Gerry Adams by way of a large scale cartoon.

Adams (it is made clear in the cartoon) is not honest because he has denied being in the IRA. But what is not said is that the policy of censorship, rigorously and enthusiastically enforced by Irish journalists, forced all leading members of Sinn Féin into a denial that they were, or had ever been, in the IRA. Without this two way arrangement, it would have been impossible to report on what was happening within Sinn Féin and the IRA.

The very first thing that those same journalists would do, were Adams now to come clean about his involvement in the IRA, is to run to their notepads or tape machines and show multitudes of interviews where Adams denied being in the IRA so he could actually find some way to express his viewpoints.  

The anti Sin Féin nailbomb in the centre of the Irish Times this weekend is a backhanded compliment to Sinn Féin generally and Gerry Adams in particular. For, after this party's disastrous dithering over the original bank guarantee scheme, it now seems to have come up with a truly radical set of proposals for a transformation of society. In fact (and with huge irony) these proposals bring Sinn Féin and the one bright light in the dark star that is the Irish Times, Fintan O'Toole, in such proximity that they may as well kiss and make up now and get it over with.

Both O'Toole, with his own economic and cultural proposals, and Sinn Féin, are making three fundamental mistakes, which I will come to in a moment, but this development is a clear signal of a welcome realignment on the left.

My loyal readers will be aware that I have been a trenchant critic of Fintan O'Toole who, in spite of his talents as a writer and critic, very often took a two nationist position with regards to our colonial legacy and spoke of his understanding of the unionist (ie ultra conservative) position. But look at this “Ourselves Alone” quote from O’Toole in this this Saturday‘s Irish Times:

“Our political culture and institutions are still ours to reshape, and the urgent need to transform them is blindingly clear. Our values and goals as a society are still ours to decide. The huge vacuum where a public morality ought to be can be filled only by ourselves. The citizenship that has been made so much smaller this week can be expanded by reclaiming it. The sovereignty of the Irish people can be restored if we do something we have failed so disastrously to do: use it.”


What is crucial to the new approach in O’Toole’s arguments is its inclusiveness, couched as it is in the terms of the Belfast Agreement. In others words, an All Ireland political and cultural programme, where a genuine peoples republic will make the decisions about its future.

In what has now become a pre election period, the vision presented by left wing constituencies such as Sinn Féin and commentators such as O’Toole is entirely possible but it needs three more elements for it to become concrete.

Firstly, and most importantly, there must be a recognition that no challenge to the international banking system will be possible unless a substantial number of countries jump at the same time and with a similar programme of investment and equitable taxation.

Secondly, we have to get away from the petrified view of politics as posed by the likes of Steven Collins. In a relatively small country like ours, the Dáil is not the place where real change will take place. It is at the level of local councils, the voluntary and community sector where fundamental change can be worked. Nor will this change be implemented by one party alone. There are decent, fair minded people at all levels of Irish society, and in all parties or none, who are crying out for a platform for change and strong set of cultural pointers. The most revolutionary thing that we can do in this new time is not throw the odd meaningless bomb here and there but to develop our knowledge of our language, music, sport and communal solidarity. The GAA has been doing this for years.

Thirdly, a new form of citizenship in a new Ireland must reach out to our huge diaspora for support and mutual development. If Jews and Pakistanis can do it, there is no reason why we should not work with our cousins all over the world to promote Ireland's new Republic, its new view of citizenship, right across the globe.

@ Paul Larkin

Baile Átha Cliath

Samhain 2010

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Title: Crisis? Let me tell you what the word crisis actually means.
Date posted: 22 Nov '10 - 15:07
Filed under: General
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