independent

Sunday 31 August 2014

Don't forget politicians are easily replaceable

Paul Bowler

Published 23/01/2013 | 13:58

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There's a lot we Kerry people will put up with. Bad roads, slow internet, Cork and the constant rain. We even laugh off Kerryman jokes, pausing only to correct the spelling and amend the grammar.

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As a literary people, we hold to Wilde's adage, "The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about." We delight in sarcasm and slagging. The always expected barrage of put-downs keeps our wits finely honed. The only downside being that it is now dangerous to compliment a woman on her looks as she is likely to slap your face as she looks for the implied insult in the flattery.

What we won't put up with or endure though, is anyone seeming to get above themselves. And we Kerry people know this when we see it, as a superior people, we can spot it from a mile away. When we meet it, we treat in the only way it should be treated, constant, consistent and coruscating irreverence.

This is not to suggest that nothing is sacred. Children are off-limits. The dead also, but that one is a bit flexible. People like me will never accept that death has earned CJ Haughey the right to any of the witless fawning he enjoyed while he was alive. And while we may have funny laws like the one against blasphemy, we know enough about how some priests behaved to never again buy into their superiority.

These days, one has to earn respect and work damn hard to keep it. I had thought this more careful attitude towards those with a bit of power was not unique to Kerry. But I may be wrong. It seems, for example, that Pat Rabbitte TD, thinks we should be nicer to him and his kind. Maybe even more respectful. He's a Government Minister, a former leader of the Labour Party, a TD for over 20 years and a man not slow to take on the Roman Catholic Church, but he seems to think we need to respect him more. This from a man who dismissed broken election promises, as just what political parties do.

Pat Rabbitte and his ilk, have struck gold. Having won a popularity contest, based on promises that have not been kept, he now has a huge salary and a pension pot, that would make the lives of several dozen carers, less backbreaking and isolated. And he tells us we should be a little more respectful of politicians?

I am aware and grateful for the fact that I live in a country where I can express my feelings for powerful men and women, without fear. It's a wonderful thing. Historically it is a most rare right, to publicly announce one's feelings of, let's say contempt, for someone powerful. Even better, in this technological age, I can express that contempt in many ways beyond print.

There are limits though, or at least there should be limits. Anonymity is sometimes necessary, but it should be a rare thing. For the rest, we should never shy away from being honest and open about our contempt for any politician. The only restraint we should acknowledge, is that if one is abusive, then one can be ignored.

When elected functionaries look like they believe that they are a new and improved 'priesthood', then never neglect your duty to remind them that they are easily replaceable and even more easily forgotten.

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