Monday 20 November 2017

'Bertie and Brian' haters have now turned into FF

It's hard to keep up that righteous anger when the alternatives are just the same, says Eilis O'Hanlon

Eilis O'Hanlon

VINCENT Browne wasn't being 100 per cent serious when he said last week: "Bring back Brian Cowen and Bertie." In fact, he probably wasn't even being one per cent serious. If Fianna Fail is a disease, then the late night TV3 host was immunised against all known strains of it long ago.

That's what makes Browne's "bring back Bertie" comment so noteworthy. Not least because of what he said next: "It's that bad." "It" being the current political situation in Ireland. He helpfully listed the main faults of the Fine Gael/Labour Coalition for reference: the broken promises; the increasing irrelevancy of parliament; the lack of a will towards serious reform. Not to mention the Great Unspoken Truth in Irish politics – that not only would Fine Gael and Labour have failed to avoid the iceberg into which the ship of state crashed under Fianna Fail's captaincy, but the alternative policies they were advocating at the time would have made things worse.

Somehow, though, there still seems to be an appetite to keep pretending that everything which happened to Ireland in the last 10 years was all Fianna Fail's fault. I never really liked or understood Fianna Fail either. Looked at from the North, they always seemed like aliens: exotic, disconcerting, with strange passions and traditions that never spoke to me except to say "move along, dear, there's nothing for you here". Even as FF baffled me, I always knew that I was being shut out of an important part of what made Ireland what it was, but what could I do? I just didn't "get" it. But nor can I pretend to feel any more positive or optimistic about what replaced it.

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