Monday 18 December 2017

Gormley should try public's straitjacket before complaining

Government is not for the faint-hearted and if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen, writes Celia Larkin

Listening to John Gormley complain about the criticism and abuse he has endured during his term in Government got me thinking. I wondered what I thought about his outburst, was it justified? Was it unusual?

The Green Party leader is probably -- in common with Taoiseach Brian Cowen -- subject to more abuse from more directions than any political leaders in the past, since there are now far more avenues through which criticism can be channelled. In fact, in the last 10 years, with the explosion of Twitter and Facebook into the everyday consciousness 'new media' has, for politicians, added yet another layer of contact with the general public. That can be good and that can be bad depending on what side of the fence you're on. Let's face it -- there are members of the Green Party handy enough on Twitter, and no way reticent in voicing their criticism, as we have seen over the last year in particular.

Can or should an individual have to endure sustained verbal/written attack over a prolonged period of time? Such sustained abuse doesn't tend to happen to most of us, and when it does it's not very pleasant. But are leaders of political parties the same as the rest of us? As individuals, of course they are, but if you are leader of a political party, in fact if you are leader of anything, you have to be made of sterner stuff. You have to expect that more people will want to make comments about you, and that more will be motivated by dislike than by affection for you.

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