Saturday 22 October 2016

Enda looks backwards. It beats looking in the mirror

Published 13/05/2014 | 02:30

Enda Kenny at the National Memorial Day on Sunday
Enda Kenny at the National Memorial Day on Sunday
Interesting point: Ronan Mullen

The first of these truths is that there is no big red dude flying around the sky bringing us presents on Christmas Eve.

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I'm sorry if that comes as news to you – after all, I'm repeatedly informed that this column appeals only to the most juvenile of minds. But I'd still like to believe that the average reader is mentally, at least, in their mid-teens, which is the age I finally realised there was no Santa.

That was an awkward conversation with the folks, I can tell ya.

People may scoff at the trauma of discovering there's no Santa. But they'd be wrong. And they probably hate children, too. Because discovering this particular truth is the first time you realise that your parents have been lying to you. Not only have they been feeding you a fib, they then insist that you collude in the deception. Because let's face it, how many of us spent our first year of non-belief going along with the charade, simply to keep the Ma happy?

My point is that we are lied to from the beginning, and we then collude with the lie, at least for a time, because it is easier than confronting the deception head on.

And this is where government comes in.

The great truth that nobody in this country ever really confronts is that there is no government on Earth, and most certainly not on this island, who can make life better for you. They can't do that, they are not designed to do that and they shouldn't have to do that.

No, the biggest service a government can ever perform for its citizens is to stay as far away from them as possible. And, like that first Christmas of wilful complicity in your first lie, we grown-ups have now willingly joined forces with our government in perpetuating the mutually delusional deceit that we would all be better off if our political elders were allowed to control us.

In fact, sometimes they are best just used as ornamental popinjays to be dragged out whenever there's a need for some nice words that nobody pays attention to.

I was thinking about this yesterday as I read Enda Kenny's speechifying in relation to the Famine – look, I had a few minutes to spare and I was bored. I'm not proud of myself – and I was struck by his remarks that "we have a national duty to remember the victims".

Yes, well, I'm sure we'll agree that the Famine was a particularly unpleasant affair, but this inherited memory nonsense really has to stop. Obviously, our Dear leader was hardly going to take to the stage at the commemoration in Roscommon and address the crowd with a simple: "Look, your ancestors paid the price for being picky eaters. How did people who lived on an island surrounded by the best fisheries in Europe go hungry?"

No, that would have been too much to hope for – although the sight of a few hundred well-meaning punters swooning at such heresy as they choked on their burgers would have been a sight to behold.

Instead, he went for the one natural resource we have in abundance – blustering bull poopy.

No doubt choking back a manly tear, he opined that "as their descendants, we carry the generational memory of An Gorta Mór, deep within us. It's in how we stop momentarily when we hear summer blight warnings on the radio; it's in the coldness at the back of the neck at the particular smell of a bag of potatoes that has spent too long in the cupboard."

In fairness to our Most Benevolent Chieftain, I had that very experience the other day. For I, too, went looking in the cupboard for some spuds and was shocked, appalled and overcome with a sense of strange, existential ennui when I recoiled at the smell of the pustulant tubers.

Granted, I thought my reaction was a result of knowing that I'd have to go back out to the shops if I wanted to make a gratin.

But apparently it was a genetic memory of the days my culchie ancestors realised the potatoes tasted a bit weird.

We may have a national duty to commemorate the Famine – we don't, but let's humour him – but it takes a set of stones the size of the Cashel rock to wax lachrymose over a bunch of people who got out of Dodge a few hundred years ago when their great, great grandkids are doing the same thing under his watch.

But that's the Irish for you – great at caring about injustice as long as it happens centuries long ago or continents far away.


As the Nigerian kidnap case continues to exercise the emotions of the soft-witted liberal left who would rather take selfies of solidarity than do something practical like, for example, offer to volunteer in some capacity for Ireland's first FGM-dedicated clinic, everyone's hopping on the jalopy of concern.

Now everyone's favourite choir boy, Ronan Mullen, has steamed into the debate by asking: "Do Boko Haram care about Twitter?"

It's an interesting point but one which fails to ask the big question – do Boko Haram care about Ronan Mullen? Actually, does anybody?


As we all know, anyone who criticises cyclists in this country is likely to feel the weight of a bicycle pump across the back of their head.

But cycling advocates have been rather quiet in the case of Dublin woman Rosaleen Groves, who was forced to spend nine days in hospital after a cyclist crashed a red light on O'Connell Street and, for good measure, had to undergo surgery for a new hip.

Still, it was obviously her own fault.

Did she not get the memo which pointed out that red lights are only for pedestrians and motorists, and don't apply to cyclists?

Irish Independent

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