News Gerard O'Regan

Thursday 18 September 2014

Ladies who lunch don't 'get' it, but Ming dynasty is on the way

Published 31/05/2014 | 02:30

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26/05/2014 Luke 'Ming' Flanagan and supporters at the count centre for the european elections in the TF Royal Hotel, Castlebar. Co. Mayo. Photo : Keith Heneghan
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

SO what's gonna happen should Ming meet Merkel? They might well pass one another some day, purposefully striding through one of those long grandiose corridors in the EU inner sanctum. Will he go for it – seize the moment – and ask Angela just what is she at trying to stop Irish people cutting turf?

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In slightly rarefied parts of Dublin, some of those so-called ladies who lunch say they find it difficult to really "get'' what Ming is all about. But in between the glasses of carefully chilled Chardonnay they need to wise up. All across Europe a galaxy of Mings is about to descend on Brussels and make life very difficult for power brokers such as the German Chancellor.

As Ming warned anybody who cared to listen before the election: "I'm sick and tired of dealing with the monkey. I want to go and deal with the organ grinder.''

In fairness to Ming, and he does have his moments, he is actually remarkably moderate on EU matters compared to many of the newly elected MEPs cross the European continent. From UKIP hardliners in Britain to Golden Dawn semi-Nazis in Greece, a different type of politician is Brussels-bound.

In France one in four voters backed the extremist National Front. It's by far the biggest shake-up in French political life in decades. And maybe most chilling of all, Germany has returned an MEP who describes Hitler as "a great man''. He has also questioned the numbers who died in the Holocaust.

The EU and all it stands for is at a pivotal point in its history. The ideal of "one for all and all for one'', which brought so many countries together in better times, is under dire threat. Even the most ardent Irish devotees of the European project have had their ardour tested these last few years. We, of course, used to love the EU – or the EEC as it was in previous times.

Our farmers did better out of it than they they dared to admit and we seemed to be forever getting grants to pay for roadworks and endless construction projects.

"Funded by the European Union'', was a consoling motif around Ireland, which we probably took too much for granted. But it sure did give a nice warm feeling that somebody out there was looking out for us. We felt that because we were small and peripheral they were willing to dole out loads of loot to help us get on a bit in the world. But those heady days are no more. Now we have a gnawing feeling that because we are a relatively insignificant member of the club we are being bullied and hard done by.

We know only too well we brought most of our domestic problems on ourselves – all that high living on borrowed money, etc. etc. And we accept we have to pay a price for our misdeeds. But is it ever going to end? And in any case did we not take one hell of a big hit for the team when we borrowed all those billions to bail out our banks and our entire financial system. Of course, we had to do it to save ourselves. But in the process we sure did keep a lot of knock-on grief away from other financial houses across the continent, including those in Germany. With the wisdom of hindsight, they too were not without sin when it came to irresponsible lending. The bottom line is we need to be cut some slack if the political centre is to hold and if we are to get things buzzing a bit more here at home.

To utter the old cliche – the people have spoken. They believe the sackcloth and ashes bit has run its course. We are not alone and across Europe millions of voters – unfortunately – are turning in on themselves. They want their own national parliaments to set the agenda, and not be running cap in hand to moneymen in Frankfurt or Brussels. But Ireland also has to negotiate from a position of reality.

We can't pull the plug on the EU or the euro. The option of going it alone in a big, and often bad, world is simply not an option. In that sense we're kind of snookered.

But in the meanwhile let Ming do his damnedest. Maybe there's a bit of sense in another of his pre-election calls when he raged: "If you think being small means you can't have an effect – try spending the night in a tent with a mosquito.''

Irish Independent

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