ONE of the special perks that we got for the €1.2bn Terminal Two at Dublin Airport is a series of 250 portrait-photographs of some famous Irish people. These public faces include Pierce Brosnan, Brian O'Driscoll, Paddy Moloney and Gerry Adams TD.
Now the last-named was at the centre of a truly atrocious war that lasted for 26 years, and cost, from all sides, nearly 4,000 lives. When Gerry Adams's IRA ceased its war, thereafter so, too, did all other terrorist campaigns, meaning that the IRA was the main engine for the Troubles. All this would be grim enough without all the other revelations of recent years, such as Mr Adams's alleged involvement in the abduction and murder of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville, and in the Bloody Friday bombings of 40 years ago this July. Though Mr Adams has said he was never in the IRA, and was never involved in any atrocities, not one of these very public and incredibly serious allegations in many media outlets in Ireland or Britain has ever been met with a libel writ. Now, I shouldn't even have to make these points. They should be obvious to the Dublin Airport Authority. The official image of Ireland for visitors should not include Gerry Adams. Only an utterly sick and twisted vision of this country would maintain that a picture of a grisly old warlord, whose terrorist-followers had directly caused the deaths of nearly 2,000 people, should now be greeting tourists at Dublin Airport. But that is what the peace process has done: it has created a level playing field of utter depravity, in which the doer and the done-unto are, as we have repeatedly seen, accorded the same moral status: though in the case of the DAA, the victims of IRA death-squads are happily invisible.
It is surely not coincidental that another semi-state organisation, RTE, was responsible for perpetrating a Sinn Fein wheeze that has had profound constitutional implications: the corruption of the presidential election. We know beyond all doubt that RTE allowed a tweeted lie to be broadcast about Sean Gallagher which destroyed his presidential campaign when he was ahead in the polls. And we can be pretty sure that an unsubstantiated tweet from a Catholic organisation, such as Opus Dei or the Knights of St Columbanus, would never have been broadcast by RTE as a "fact". And as sinister as this outrage has been the utter lack of media anger about the corruption of our democracy. The logic apparently is that the outcome justifies the means. We have a liberal and cultured president: so that is all right then.
IT'S not all right, because we've thrown out the rule book. Is it surprising that President Higgins is apparently making up rules as he goes along? In a recent speech in London, he denounced privatisation of government assets 12 hours before the Government announced privatisation of the state-owned energy sector. But this is constitutionally wrong. He cannot offer opinions on government policy. Moreover, in that same speech, he denounced the influence of the free market philosophers Popper and Hayek on modern thought, comparing them unfavourably with George Bernard Shaw and Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the founders of the London School of Economics (LSE) where he was making his speech. But nothing that Popper and Hayek ever said compared with the keen support that the Webbs and Shaw gave to Stalin at the time of the Soviet purges, in which millions died, and which Mr Higgins had apparently forgotten about.
And no doubt Mr Higgins had also forgotten that the LSE was hardly the place to make moral comparison about any philosophers; after all, it had accepted a donation of £1.2m from the murderous tyrant Muammar Gaddafi, who 25 years ago was arming Mr Adams's IRA, and in 1989 was directly responsible for the Lockerbie bombing, which killed 270 people. And controversially, LSE granted Gaddafi's son a PhD for a thesis that is now widely accepted to have been a plagiarism.
But what is most alarming is the general media silence on this new moral order, in which visitors to Ireland are greeted by a state-subsidised portrait of Mr Adams; where the democratic system is corrupted by an anonymous tweet, and still without serious consequences for the national broadcaster responsible; and the President can airily denounce government privatisation policies.
It is almost as if we are governed by a list of liberal objectives without a connecting ethical tissue of logic or of consistency.
I know what I do not want. I do not want a national broadcaster that corrupts democracy. I do not want government policy emanating from the Aras.
I do not want to have to carry my bags the length of a quarter-mile long corridor in a new airport terminal that cost us €1.2bn, broken only by a total of 80 yards of mechanised walkways, and then with another quarter mile walk to the bus terminals. Oh, yes, and most emphatically of all, I do not want pictures of an IRA leader leering at me as I totter wheezily homeward.