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John Boland: Politicians' new language shows little has changed

SELDOM has an opposition leader been more furiously eloquent than on RTE Radio One yesterday morning.

Denouncing the outgoing regime, he spoke angrily of its "complete indifference to the well-being of the people" and of government ministers "growing fat with extravagantly swollen salaries and pensions", while "the cream of our population" were facing a tide of emigration "that threatens us with total extinction".

"For these crimes," he witheringly concluded, "they now ask for your vote."

Well, that was Clann na Poblachta leader Sean MacBride in the run-up to the 1948 General Election and his speech came courtesy of John Bowman's always-absorbing archive programme. As for the current main opposition leader, he was nowhere to be heard but was no doubt enjoying his breakfast as he listened to the latest poll result, which told him that Fine Gael now had a "commanding lead".

This despite the fact that, the previous day, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin had been scoffing at Fine Gael and Labour's "lack of credibility". Ah, credibility -- Micheal and his colleagues know all about that.

Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald, on the other hand, knows all about everything and has no patience with those who don't, as she demonstrated on 'Saturday View' with Rachel English.

"Are you really that infantile?" she snorted at Brian Hayes, while a little later she was in full lecture mode as she sternly told him: "Listen carefully to what I just said!" Move over, Mary Hanafin, there's a new headmistress in town.

Fittingly, the one o'clock news had just informed us that Sinn Fein was about to launch its education policy, which at least makes a change from the policies it used to espouse.

For its part, Labour was about to thrill us with its plans for sport, while the Greens, increasingly good for a laugh, were about to wow voters with their proposals for same-sex marriages. That'll get them back into power.

Eamon Dunphy was good for a laugh, too, on his Sunday morning Newstalk show, stirringly declaring his allegiance to the decent, intelligent people of Ireland rather than to politicians, who were merely "bluffers and spoofers, and so we won't bother with them".

With his 'Democracy If We Can Get Our Act Together', Eamon had been temporarily in danger of joining the ranks of these bluffers and spoofers, but thankfully lethargy saved him.

However, Eamon's show, conducted live from a Cork bar that he shamelessly puffed four times, was lively, unlike Marian Finucane's Sunday outing, which went on interminably as its deadly earnest panellists (none of them known to me) trotted out every platitude that has ever been uttered about the state of the country.

Speaking of which, Enda Kenny finally emerged from his remote Mayo parish to grace RTE's 'This Week' with an interview in which he roundly condemned platitudes.

As the Fine Gael leader saw it, there was a "disconnect" between politics and people and this had to be bridged by a "new language". Then he went on to speak of "strong government" and "political stability" and "difficulties ahead" and "fiscal targets" and "growth rates" and "best team" and "real choice".

Hmmm, sounds a lot like the old language to me.

Irish Independent