Thursday 22 February 2018

We must listen to intellectuals, not mock them

Principles are what we should live by, not what we drop when the going gets tough, writes Emer O'Kelly

ON A MISSION: President Michael D Higgins. Picture Nick Bradshaw
ON A MISSION: President Michael D Higgins. Picture Nick Bradshaw

Emer O’Kelly

THE President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, is about to initiate a project concerning national ethics. Dear God in heaven, there he is, with a gammy knee, in his 70s, in an office which by statute precludes all political involvement; and he hopes to turn us away from the path we have, on all the evidence, trodden for the past 50 years at least? He wants us to learn to behave honourably.

Apparently President Higgins has been building towards this over the past year, in the speeches he has delivered, notably at Dublin City University and at the Sorbonne in Paris. So he has been thinking about it for a long time, and is certainly not going off at half-cock. Does he have the faintest idea what he's trying to take on?

He hopes that the initiative will culminate in a conference at Aras an Uachtarain next autumn. Now there's proof of an idealist if ever there was one: that there might be hope of turning us away from our narrow-minded, belligerent "me-feinism" and cute-hoorism, and above all our climate of aggressive clientelism ... all in the space of a year?

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