Kevin Myers: As for writing on rugby, you don't have to be a carpenter to see that the chair keeps falling over
Published 23/02/2010 | 05:00
IT was kind -- but really unnecessary -- for Ronan O'Gara and his cohorts of admirers to provide further evidence proving the point that I was making last week: that irrationalism and dysfunctionalism are unusually powerful influences in Irish life.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine any other country in which one of the most capped players in rugby history would write a letter denouncing the thoughts of a non-rugby commentator, to be followed by the hysterical shrieks of his fans.
This infantile babble seemed to focus on how much rugby I had ever played. Children: one does not need to be a carpenter to see that the chair keeps falling over.
In fact I pointed fingers at five Irish participants in Paris: Kidney, O'Gara, O'Leary, Flannery and Healy. And I identified the prime architect of that afternoon's disappointment not to be any individual, but the Irish sub-conscious, and it was that -- and not Ronan O'Gara -- which was the main subject of the column. I quote its final paragraphs now, because they have been vindicated by the hysterical and childish response to my piece.
The question is: why? What causes a people to behave so dysfunctionally as to make failure literally inevitable? Alas, it is a common Irish characteristic: far more common than we like to admit. For we are comfortable with failure. It's a familiar condition and it suits us. Even a natural winner like Declan Kidney can be subconsciously drawn by its allure. We see the pathology of defeatism throughout the administration of our State. Indeed, is not political violence -- and the reverence we show it -- evidence of a preference for malfunctionalism?
Were our inevitably suicidal economic policies of the past decade not proof that we sought failure? Do we not repeatedly seek refuge in formulas that we subconsciously must know in advance cannot work, but then we blame the inevitable failure on something other than our own preference for it?
Last season's grand slam was the aberration -- and please remember, we nearly forfeited it with an idiotic and needless penalty in the last seconds of the final match, which the Welsh would probably have converted, had Gavin Henson kicked it. So the following doesn't make for pleasant reading; but the Irish team that lost in France really was representing Ireland.
The infantile internet hate-storm that followed the publication of O'Gara's letter in response to that column, and the two-person rant about what a horrible person I was on Newstalk FM -- with, naturally, no attempt at balance -- merely supplied proof of the irrationalism which governs so much of life.
For I have written about O'Gara before: when he stood with hands in his pockets while meeting Queen Elizabeth II last year after the Grand Slam win. And for the bilious leprechaun definition of national identity, he was striking a blow for Irish freedom, by insulting the octogenarian head of state of a friendly power.
The cyber-storm about a mere newspaper column coincided with the resignation of the Minister for Defence on an issue that seemed to be unrelated, yet in a strange way meshed with it perfectly.
Until Eoghan Harris on Sunday revealed all the impromptu remarks made by Willie O'Dea, I was unaware of the context in which he had made his baseless allegation about Sinn Feiner Maurice Quinlivan owning a brothel.
Mr O'Dea's opening words -- which were deleted from all RTE's broadcasts of the tape -- were: "While occasionally we send out letters to planning applicants . . . we have never been involved with anyone who shot anybody, or kidnapped anybody, or robbed banks, or kidnapped people."
STEP forward the unchanging and demented morality of Sinn Fein! For Maurice Quinlivan then felt able to sue for the brothel allegation, and ignore the infinitely more terrible IRA implications. Frankly, I'd much rather be accused of running a knocking-shop full of exotic Brazilian girls than be associated with the IRA murderers of Jerry McCabe, Jean McConville, et alia.
Moreover, it's nearly 20 years since police officers disturbed two armed intruders at the home of businessman Charles Tidbury in Hampshire, causing them to flee in a car which was later found at Stonehenge.
Its occupants, Pearse McAuley and Nessan Quinlivan, were charged with conspiracy to murder Mr Tidbury. This same fine Quinlivan, of course, went on to be the owner of the flat about which O'Dea was speaking.
You could almost pick any event in modern Ireland as evidence of the irrationality which dominates the conduct of our public life today, but this little affair of the "shocking" brothel allegation will do.
Matching that is the generally perceived "insignificance" of the affidavit that the minister later signed, asserting that he had made no statement about Quinlivan brothel-keeping. In a mature society, one in which one answers for one's delinquencies, a false oath like that would be the all-time career-killer -- yet O'Dea still trumpets that he will be back!
And, do you know, in a dysfunctional society like ours, he probably will.
As for Ronan O'Gara: who can say? Not me, that's for sure.