Opinion Brendan O’Connor

Sunday 18 February 2018

Pat Carey's loveless life inspired change

We were reminded again last week of the old dysfunctional Ireland Pat Carey helped change

Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

You can tend to prejudge people and put them into simple boxes, can't you? When I met Pat Carey before he came on TV with me to discuss his life as a gay man and his decision to come out publicly, I suppose I was half expecting some harmless, nice oul fool. That was kind of the image the media often portrayed: a nice, harmless poor crathur. Even the way he sat there the infamous night on Prime Time and took that roasting off Pat Rabbitte, he seemed a bit like a useful idiot sent out to get a kicking. He always had that slightly hangdog look about him, like an innocent from Kerry slightly dazzled by the bright lights of the big smoke. And he always talked so quietly and so gently.

Carey was one of the few who came out of the last Fianna Fail government not loathed by the public in some shape or form. In a strange way, people almost felt sorry for him. He almost seemed like a nice man who fell in with the wrong crowd.

But talking to him that night I began to understand why Pat Carey had been a Fianna Fail whip. It didn't surprise me either that despite having lost his own seat in 2011, he was to be Fianna Fail's director of elections for this General Election. That night I met a guy who was no fool, whose decision to come out at such a critical juncture in the marriage equality campaign was not some kind of happy-clappy, emotional thing. Carey had analysed the situation and had cold, clear, logical reasons for doing what he was doing. He knew that he was in a unique position to help win this thing because of who he was.

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