Monday 26 September 2016

Admit it, you want to go back

Published 17/01/2016 | 02:30

Leinster House
Leinster House

At this stage we might as well just go the whole hog and vote Fianna Fail back into Government. I know, I know. But on some level, deep down, it seems that's kind of what people want.

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Oh sure, we gave out about them, but we loved giving out about them. Right now, people seem to look back and find those times comforting. There was a natural order to things back in the day. Fianna Fail was in government and Fine Gael occupied the moral high ground. As Fianna Fail wrestles with its conscience this weekend and agonises over if it should or can go into government, it would do well to note this strange nostalgic mood, this yearning for the '70s and '80s. Indeed, Fianna Fail's best bet now is to run on a nostalgia ticket. "Vote Fianna Fail: Let's pretend the last 10 or 20 or 30 years never happened and go back to a simpler Ireland, where you knew who was who."

The past week has been like an episode of Reeling in the Years, and don't say you didn't enjoy it. Though of course, one of the main reasons for the collective fit of nostalgia was a sad one - the fact that every day seemed to bring more era-ending deaths. So the soundtrack to the past week has been Bowie, interspersed with clips of Scrap Saturday. And of course Alan Rickman's death somehow fed more into our 1916 nostalgia.

The tributes for PJ Mara were another excuse to reminisce about the bad old days, with a lot of Haughey anecdotes. And strangely it seemed as if the political and media establishment at least, yearned for the days when they smoked at Ard Fheiseanna and leaders were colourful.

Yes, they were awful times, but apparently they were entertaining times.

The past was brought to life even more this past week by a class of an oil crisis and an obsession over petrol prices. And then of course the teachers and the Dart drivers were threatening to go on strike, which was a real blast from the past.

It even emerged the powers-that-be were snooping around journalists' phones again. And of course, the Irish are off to the Oscars again. And not only is Mary Hanafin back on the scene, even Bertie is daring to pop his head up here and there. The election campaign too kicked off in good old-fashioned style, with Fianna Fail and Fine Gael getting stuck into each other. Say what you will about a democratic revolution and the rise of Sinn Fein and the Independents, for most people an election means one thing and that's Fianna Fail and Fine Gael - two identical political parties having an unseemly personalised row for a few weeks. This election started promisingly with negative campaigns all round.

There is something comforting about all this for a people that have been through the seismic change that we Irish have. All we need now is for Christy Moore to write a song about it. Or maybe we could dig up Pearse next and put him in charge.

Sunday Independent

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