Wednesday 22 October 2014

Too many pharisees turn State into a moral desert

The high priests of ethics have almost gleefully sandbagged the FF justice spokesman, writes John Drennan

Published 22/06/2014 | 02:30

Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein
Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein

One of the more uplifting biblical parables was that of the Good Samaritan who stopped to help a man beaten and robbed by thieves while priests and other respectable members of society moved swiftly by.

In a political system where there are far more pharisees than Samaritans, one would have thought the decision by the Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Niall Collins to engage in a similar act of mercy would have attracted universal praise.

We are, of course, saying that ironically, for in the current great age of the pharisees any act of simple humanity is fraught with danger.

This certainly was the case when it came to the decision by Collins to appeal for clemency on behalf of the father of four young children who had been convicted of a drugs offence.

This was no normal case, for the mother of the children had committed suicide earlier that year. The children faced being taken into care.

In the subsequent furore the claim by Collins that his "decision was based solely on compassion and concern for the four children'' who did not even reside in his constituency was, in the arid age of ethics, no defence.

Instead the consensus amongst our ethical pharisees was that Mr Collins should not have lifted a finger or uttered a syllable to defend the interests of four traumatised children.

In particular Enda Kenny wasn't going to be diverted by trivialities like the lives of children. As a leader, who embarrasses his office almost every time he opens his mouth these days, he attempted to gain political advantage out of Collins's charity.

Some might think we surely are a sad and cheap little country when politicians cannot engage in acts of kindness lest the office of ethics cut off their heads.

However, Mr Kenny and a strange new ally, Sinn Fein's Maurice Quinlivan, were certainly not deterred from the prospect of being laid open to such criticism.

Of course last week, alas was hardly a unique example of how an excess of ethics, particularly in this country, can turn citizens and countries into a moral desert.

Mr Kenny after all has just recently given us a soulful dissertation about the evils of an Ireland dominated by ethical pharisees which became an arid land of 'the squinting windows' where Magdalene laundries and mother and baby homes flourished and love emigrated.

Strangely enough, as was confirmed by last week's furore, back then Fine Gael were the most enthusiastic of pharisees when it came to such 'moral issues'.

Niall Collins as his milk-and-water leader noted, last week, may have broken a couple of technical rules, but, he acted with a purer heart than his censorious, quibbling detractors.

As for the chief of those, Mr Kenny, the whole fandango suggests that under 'Dear Leader' Enda charity and pity are confined to acts of the past rather than the present.

Sunday Independent

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