Our political class fails character test of power
Published 09/04/2016 | 02:30
'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." It's doubtful Abraham Lincoln envisaged there would be men and women who would shirk from the responsibility of holding power when he spoke these words.
The current impasse in the formation of a government also defies the thoughts of a modern day political figure (who is in no danger of being confused with Lincoln) when he said during the General Election that power is "a drug".
"It's attractive. It's something you thrive on. It suits some people. It doesn't suit others," acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly claimed.
Now the dust is well settled on Election 2016, it seems power doesn't suit an awful lot of the TDs who make up the 32nd Dáil. After the battering of the General Election, the Labour Party took the advice of the electorate to take an enforced break from government.
The far left of Sinn Féin, the AAA-PBP and other left-wing Independents had no inclination to get involved in serious talks on the formation of the government. They were quickly joined by the Social Democrats, who were surprisingly keen to put themselves in the same category of irrelevance. The Green Party went into Government Buildings and came out again fairly fast. That left the responsibility with middle-of-the-road Independents, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for forming a government.
Enda Kenny has gone through the motions of extensive talks with Independents, with little in the way of an outcome for Fine Gael. Micheál Martin did the same, in a less expansive, yet equally fruitless exercise. When Kenny extended the olive branch to Martin it was returned with undue haste as Fianna Fáil refused to even contemplate sharing power with the old enemy, seemingly more interested in continuing Civil War rivalries.
This weekend, the country is no closer to a government being formed and closer to a second election.
All our TDs have failed the character test.
Pope stays on a path of greater inclusivity
When conservative and liberal Catholics are equally at odds over Pope Francis's eagerly awaited 'Amoris Laetitia' (The Joy of Love), a document on the Church's place in the 21st century, one senses that the Pontiff may have got the balance not necessarily right, but more right than it was.
He has called for a less austere, less forbidding Church. But his use of the term "imperfect" Catholics, for those who divorced and remarried, will have raised hackles.
And his appeal for respect for gays, while ardently re-stating the Church's position that there are "absolutely no grounds" to equate gay unions to heterosexual marriage, will also have disappointed. Proof, as if it was needed, that Rome was not built in a day.
Perhaps we should wait and see how the Church actually acts as opposed to judging it on what it says. For he also said that: "The Church turns with love to those who participate in her life in an imperfect manner."
Whether he succeeds in integrating, as opposed to alienating, people will be seen in time.
It might also be noted that he advised that the Church needed a "healthy dose of self-criticism" for, in the past, preaching that procreation was the "almost exclusive" reason for marriage.
Under this Pope, the Vatican has begun a journey to be more inclusive. It was his namesake Francis of Assisi who said: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."