| 9.3°C Dublin

Forgetting horrors of the past

We remember nothing. If Ireland was a person -- let us call him Paddy -- he would be living in the eternal "now", which might be regarded as a very good thing, if he was able to seize all the possibilities.

Sadly, he is still somehow haunted by the past, even though he has forgotten it completely.

How else can we interpret a situation in which republican "dissidents" are on the rise, and a Prime Time report can ask the question, "where does such extremist thinking spring from?"

Well now, there's a mystery, to be sure. You'd be scratching your head all day trying to work out the answer to that puzzle.

You have no memory, but you still try to work it out somehow: you have these fellows up there now, who are prepared to commit acts of violence in order to advance the cause of a 32-county Irish republic -- where, oh where, oh where does such extremist thinking spring from?

Would they be getting those ideas from, say, looking at too much television? Would they by any chance be eating the wrong sort of food, or maybe drinking too much? Are they spending too much time on the old internet?

Or would it be something else?

Would it by chance have anything at all to do with the fact that Irish republicanism, or whatever you call it, is still widely regarded as a perfectly respectable point of view? After all, Paddy elected a load of Sinn Feiners in the last election, who proclaim roughly the same aspirations as the "dissidents", and who have apparently forgotten that this stuff tends to end quite badly.

And we're not just talking about Sinn Fein here. It seems like a dream to me, that I heard some nice reasonable chap on the radio recently declaring himself to be "an Irish republican", apparently unable to remember that "Irish republicanism" is not in fact a point of view, it is in truth a disease. And for Paddy, it is a fatal disease.

Not only does it kill perfectly harmless Irish people, it also eats up the brains of those who remain, so that they develop this total amnesia of which we speak.

Ideally, given all that we've been through, for a man to describe himself as "an Irish republican" should be about as reasonable as announcing that he has formed a romantic attachment to a kangaroo. But again, given the nature of the disease, how is anyone to know that?

I think we were caught up in the excitement of the moment too, as we watched politicians on the News denouncing that three million "package" for Colm Doherty of AIB.

Certainly we pay the executive classes a lot of money, but then someone has to go to Lord Of The Dance five times.

What we seem to be forgetting -- there it is again -- is that senior politicians also "retired" recently, and most of them are getting at least 100 grand a year for the rest of their lives, a "package" which will cost a lot more than Doherty's relatively modest three mill.

And some of them would make no apology for describing themselves as Irish republicans.

Little wonder that others are trying to get in there by running for the Seanad, which leads me to ask, how many people exactly are running for the Seanad? Thousands of the buggers seem to have fetched up on the Vincent Browne show alone, "running for the Seanad".

Maybe they've forgotten that it's going to be abolished. Then again, maybe the fellow who said he was going to abolish it has forgotten.

Does anyone -- he asked knowingly -- remember the theory that to understand RTE, you must see it essentially as a very large school?

With the Frontline audience last week consisting mainly of teachers, there was a certain surrealism afoot already, which got really strange as Pat pursued the issue of why so many students get to third level without knowing the difference between "quite" and "quiet".

Exasperated, he acted out a scene in which Pat was the teacher, explaining this to the class, as if to say, how hard is that?


Sunday Indo Living