Monday 24 October 2016

Smaller parties wake up sleepy campaign

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

It took the three 'upstarts', Stephen Donnelly (pictured), Richard Boyd Barrett and Lucinda Creighton, to shake things up. Picture: Oisin McHugh FusionShooters.
It took the three 'upstarts', Stephen Donnelly (pictured), Richard Boyd Barrett and Lucinda Creighton, to shake things up. Picture: Oisin McHugh FusionShooters.

They say that it is important to demonstrate the truth - mere talking doesn't quite do it.

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And therein lies the difficulty for the established parties. They have done an awful lot of talking of late, and the din is having a stupefying impact on the public. It took the three "upstarts", Stephen Donnelly, Richard Boyd Barrett and Lucinda Creighton, to shake things up.

With time ticking away, the post-debate political landscape seems - for the moment - in the hands of the three smaller political parties; with the established ones desperately struggling for a game-changing moment.

No leader has emerged from the ranks to seize the opportunity and create the defining lead to avoid a hung Dáil. All have laid out their wares and the public is not buying. Clearly aware that his party is losing altitude, Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday left the cockpit, and warned we may yet need to assume crash positions.

He cautioned that there could be a 'flight' of jobs and capital from Ireland if some alternatives to the Fine Gael-Labour coalition are elected to government.

The time for fooling about is over, he stressed, suggesting that Sinn Féin in government will hugely increase income taxes. "There are alternatives, but there are consequences to the alternatives," he warned.

He even reminded us that: "Greece is back in recession, Spain hasn't been able to form a government and there are rising interest rates in Portugal. We're in a very much stronger position than we were."

And Mr Kenny may be right on all counts, but frightening people into voting for his party ought not be necessary.

A simple message on jobs and a promise to finish what they started, rather than staking all on "Fiscal Space" and a partial recovery, might have had more traction.

Renua, the Social Democrats and People Before Profit managed to catch the public imagination because they had conviction and clarity, even if they lacked consistency and substance in many of their claims.

Labour's Joan Burton could not conceal her desperation, while Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams bayed like an underdog on the scent of a prized bone of contention.

But still lacking on all fronts amongst the Big Four was the energy of leadership, vision and direction to generate a winning momentum.

Fr Coghlan's blunt truths on gangland

Fr Niall Coghlan's measured words at the funeral of David Byrne contained a powerful message.

The Bible has it that rocky is the road of the peacemaker, and Fr Coghlan deserves great credit for doing the community a service by delivering some blunt truths without ever losing sight of compassion.

"It strikes me that to murder a person in cold blood, you need at least three things," said Fr Coghlan.

"Firstly, you need to be consumed with a fierce hatred that plunged you into the depths of evil.

"Secondly, you must objectify the person and make them less worthy than you.

"And thirdly, there must be a self-loathing, because when you murder another human being, you devalue your own self-worth, your own humanity."

At a time when there is the real prospect of further bloodshed, Fr Coghlan's reminder of the essential humanity of all of us, and of the dangers of being reduced to "targets" or "objects of revenge and retaliation," could hardly be more relevant.

An eye for an eye does indeed leave everyone blind.

Irish Independent

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