Tuesday 19 November 2019

Change script and get back on world stage

We, the audience, must demand a new scenario and revised dialogue if we are to break free of the old cliches, says Eamon Keane

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Theatre of the Absurd. When Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor accidentally tried to drive her car over the Dail ramps, she symbolised the New World Order better than anyone could. This new Dail is a directionless mess populated by powerless characters who repeat the same old cliches. And we are the authors of our misfortune.

You see, we believed a revenge vote for the bank bailout meant things would be somehow different. Magical thinking. So we let Fianna Fail have it. But what did we replace it with?

For some, it was Sinn Fein Nua. The new generation of TDs who packed up the Troubles in their old kit bag. They still have a convicted arms importer and the Man Who Never Was In The IRA. However, Mary Lou McDonald is personable and articulate. She, not Adams, is the future of that party.

In the Theatre of the Absurd, Sinn Fein Nua appears as the champion of the poor. It struts the stage with meaningless songs about reclamation of sovereignty. The reality is different. The SF Nua will now vote in the biggest ever cuts in the North's history as part of a three-year £4bn UK government 'efficiency drive'. The drive subsidised UK bankers' debt.

The General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Services Alliance, Brian Campfield, said: "These budget proposals will result in tens of thousands of job losses in both public and private sectors."

SF Nua maintains that its hands were tied. However, did any of its actors threaten to walk out of that show? No.

And what of the oldest act in town? The FF circus lion stumbles around its cage. Its growl is gone and the pride long departed. We jeer at it, unafraid of the paternalistic power it once held. Micheal Martin must invent a new act.

Others voted for the speciality acts. We all like the colour they offer. Think Socialist Joe Higgins awkwardly kissing Mick Wallace, the kind-hearted builder who owes us €40m. Among Wallace's creditors is AIB, which we own and which will cost each of us dearly. Absurd.

Then there is Joan Collins, voted in partly for heckling Bertie. Absurd.

Most of the audience, however, voted for the two single headline acts, Enda and Eamo. Turns out they were a duo. A pseudo couple, they step out now like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Why, if they have "very little differences" to sort out, did they sell themselves as unique parties? Absurd. Will they now neutralise each other?

And what did Fine Gael promise in the advance show billings? Reform. Will it really question the role of a government department? If it is to perpetuate an unwieldy bureaucracy that has bled us dry, then it must go. If, however, it is to offer a service in a fair and efficient way then those who work there should stay and be encouraged. So maybe we might see more child psychologists employed when we lose the thousands of apparatchiks who pen push and email others about meetings. They must go -- but will they?

Gilmore achieved electoral success. Now he has to decide if he wants a statesman's success. Will he break free from the unions' hold, or is he content with second place and a few nice ministries? Think how we could help the marginalised if we weren't subsidising the permanent elite.

Think of the deals that helped Bertie consolidate power. The report last week on the Department of Finance demonstrated that Social Partnership had taken over the budget function while its officials offered muted dissent. But senior civil servants had their pay cuts reversed. Why would they cry out too loudly? The same old narrative.

At the end of this absurd show the ringmaster will enter, cracking her whip in full Teutonic glory. Frau Merkel will make the duo dance as she sings the Bundesbank Ballad, all the while ignoring Paddy's Lament. Enda and Eamo will dance to her tune because the IMF/EU deal has condemned us to a certain death.

They have to change the script. In the new narrative they will turn and tell Merkel that we will honour the public debt incurred in running this country. We will not, however, drown in private debt owed to German, French, and other banks. If she insists that we pay it all then inevitably the euro comes down with us.


Sunday Independent

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