News Declan Lynch

Saturday 23 August 2014

A thunderous silence is the best response to the Others

The drones of official Ireland seem to think that 'Seanad reform' is a serious matter, writes Declan Lynch

Declan Lynch

Published 22/09/2013 | 05:00

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I AM proud of you all. A few months ago I suggested that everyone should feel free to have absolutely nothing to do with the Seanad debate. That there is a natural tendency to think that you should get involved in these matters, some ancient sense of civic engagement, but that in this case, you should release yourself from all such thoughts.

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And my, how you have responded.

So complete has been the silence all across the country, it seems that the message has resonated at the deepest level. Of all the people that I have encountered in the meantime, in so many situations, not one of them has spoken of this Seanad referendum. Not ... one ... word .

Nor have I overheard anyone talking about it, or even mentioning it on their way to talking about something else, or in any way engaging with this matter, in any meaningful sense.

Again, I am proud, and you must also be proud this morning, as you reflect on the total non-existence of this Seanad debate on the living planet – by your silence, you have helped to make that happen.

Not that it was a huge ask, I know. When you have gone through life rarely even speaking the word "Seanad" outside of an institutional setting, you have trained yourself without even realising it.

But still ... well done, you.

"You", of course, are a normal person. You have got "a life". You had no trouble understanding what I meant when I pointed out that there were two sides to this debate, for and against, and both of them are bullshit. You recognised the uniqueness of it, the fact that the yin yang dynamic – bullshit/not bullshit – which governs our actions and reactions had somehow gone awry here.

You realised that this was not a "debate", it was just a class of people in

politics and journalism and broadcasting droning away to one another, keeping themselves amused, feeding their own chronic addiction to the game.

You understood that this was an idea born in the most pure bullshit, in the mind of a Fine Gael leader trying desperately to draw attention to himself. And you took it from there ...

It has been called bread-and-circuses, a cynical distraction from the main event, but bread can be good for you and circuses can be entertaining. So bullshit-on-bullshit would be more accurate.

Yes, I appreciate the argument in favour of a second chamber which contains people who have lived a bit and read a few books, except I note that not even the presence of our greatest writer – WB Yeats – and of TK Whitaker himself could make much difference. In the culture of Leinster House, we are always eventually in "the arena in the unwell".

Which could start quite an interesting discussion, so we're not going to get that one.

Ah, but who am I telling? You guys know this, and you have responded in the only way open to a mature person – you have walked away from it, and you will be back only to vote against the Government, because it started it all.

It is the others we must be concerned about today. The Others.

Like the main characters in the film of that name, the protagonists in this exercise seem to exist in some other dimension, not the one in which the majority of us are living.

Not only are they utterly estranged from the true interests of the people, they mock them. It so happened that their incessant twaddle was interrupted one day with the story that John Waters had spent a few hours in jail for refusing to pay a parking fine in Dun Laoghaire. And that he had extrapolated from this, various truths about the nature of society and of the human condition .

Oh, how they laughed.

So consumed were they by their own mirth, they seemed to miss a few things. As they jeered about the trivial nature of Waters' "crime", it did not occur to them that one of the essential skills of journalism is the ability to see the broader significance of an apparently "trivial" event.

And if they knew anything at all, about anything, they would know that there are quite a few people in the outside world who have never regarded issues such as clamping as being of a minor nature. In fact, they are enraged by it on many levels.

In Dun Laoghaire, it is said that the parking policies have stopped people from making a living, have ruined them.

Indeed, any normal person whose car has ever been clamped wouldn't regard it as trivial, but I can tell you what they would regard as trivial – yes, I think you know where I'm going with this .

Indeed they would probably have a great old laugh at the notion that someone might be willing to spend a day in jail in relation to some genuinely nonsensical issue like, say, "Seanad reform".

But if the drones of Official Ireland were told that someone had been jailed for his stance on Seanad reform, in the mind's eye you can see them putting on the serious face, and breaking into that dinner-party murmur of theirs about a notable contribution to democracy ... a significant intervention in the debate ... an important contribution ...

In the shrunken universe which they inhabit, they have nothing else to do.

Sunday Independent

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