Thursday 27 July 2017

McGuinness is not some maverick minister with a penchant for public-service bashing, just one who can speak common sense

History will treat this politician kindly, but can we recognise the truth of what he is saying now, asks Brendan O'Connor

Minister of State for trade and Commerce John McGuinness does not wish to be a hero or a martyr. Neither does he seek attention. But he is a man who believes that he has a mandate and a duty to lead and to try and set an agenda for Government. He is a serious guy and a businessman and not a bullshitter. He is uncomfortable with the notion of being characterised as some kind of "maverick" or "outspoken" TD. As far as he is concerned, the things he says about the civil service are just things that need saying. They are common sense. They are the kind of thing any businessman would say if he looked at our civil service.

But we live in absurd times, times of political torpor and dullness. There is a sort of mad political correctness around saying obvious things about the government, the economy and the civil service. It says something about these times that common sense like McGuinness's can seem revolutionary. In ways, he is only stating the obvious. But then, even if something seems obvious, if no one is really acknowledging it, maybe that means it's not obvious.

That's the kind of weird times we live in -- the blindingly obvious is no longer staring us in the face.

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