THE 30pc or so of the population that, according to the 'Sunday Independent' /Quantum Poll, in essence think that it's not too soon for Martin McGuinness to be president are probably the defining demographic of this State. They constituted both the bedrock supporters of the IRA, and the Haugheyite wing of Fianna Fail. Theirs is a world of dodgy planning permissions, jobs for the boys and the entire wink-wink culture that has always beset this State. These Thirty Percenters live according to a different moral order, such as also flourishes in those other European islands of Sicily, Corsica and Sardinia, where the twin traditions of banditry and civic corruption remain similarly powerful.
Central to the Irish insular moral order are the Thirty Percenters -- the TeePees -- and their belief in their immunity to the law of consequence: and if consequences do ensue, then that is always someone else's fault.
Such infantilism has almost become part of the national condition: it is in the DNA of Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, and even certain rural parts of Fine Gael. Hence those Irish conundrums, like road-junctions without signposts, and housing estates on flood plains.
This refusal even to perceive the iron law of consequence is made all the more toxic by the traditions of cultural deference towards self-appointed armed moralists, who claim -- and are granted -- the right to redefine sin. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" becomes an entirely negotiable injunction, not as defined by the Catholic Church or the State, but by a secret brotherhood which actually states the reverse injunction: "Thou Shalt Kill."
This brotherhood of The Few also arrogates to itself the right to decide who shall die. This can even include children, as in the Mountbatten murders. And such is the extraordinary cultural and cultic power of the Few that they are usually able to neutralise the consciences of their followers.
This is quite an achievement. What in most societies is a central and defining feature of the state -- a monopoly of violence -- is here annulled by the fiat of a Few, and a new moral order interposed. This Few can decide that there should be war, as in 1916, or in 1919, or in 1922 or 1939 or 1956 or 1970, or peace, as in 1921 or 1923 or 1945, or 1961, or 1996. And roughly one-third of the population of Catholic Ireland -- the TeePees -- largely accept the moral authority of the self-appointed Few to decide whether there should be war or not.
Of course, various voodoo justifications are usually trotted out for this: as in "foreign rule" in Ireland will mean that there will always be armed resistance. But the Few have now authorised acceptance of British rule: so how is British rule acceptable now when it wasn't 40 years ago? And anyway, many Europeans live outside the states to which they are culturally and linguistically attached. Finland contains tens of thousands of Swedes, some French people speak German as a first tongue, and many Italians are really Austrian. Serbia has scores of thousands of Hungarians; Bulgaria has its Turks. And so on.
In Western Europe, aside from the Basques, only Ireland has this tradition, which is still esteemed within conventional politics, of attempting to resolve demographic and ethic complexities by the use of non-state violence.
Watch Fianna Fail silently standing on the sidelines of this presidential election: where does its heart lie? With constitutional law and duty and honour? No. It probably lies with Martin McGuinness. For Fianna Fail is culturally Fenian, the old name for TeePees. Its instincts are for a network of nepotism, with a pike in the non-existent thatch of a huge bungalow, built with a bank-holiday planning-permission in a national park.
The delinquent, consequence-free mores of TeePeedom wrote both the benchmarking and the Croke Park deals. These mores have infused the public sector with a grotesque and enduring sense of entitlement, while the State lies in ruins.
And even now, after Fianna Fail had skillfully bartered its way to national Armageddon, party councillors remain compulsively tribal and addictively conspiratorial. Of course, by TeePee standards, this is not "corruption", but merely the natural order. TeePees genuinely know no better. Better still, Teepees took these odious standards to the US and embodied them in the shenanigans of Tammany Hall, South Boston, Chicago, Noraid and the unspeakable Kennedy clan.
Meanwhile, the 70pc non-Teepee Irish became amongst the truly great Americans -- in law, the police, the army, the FBI and the USMC.
The Teepee demographic in Ireland remains a rock-solid 30pc. It speaks today in the mellifluous tones of the bar library, as it does in the more impenetrable tones of Donegal or Kerry.
TeePeedom still lives by its own autonomous morality, and issues of right or wrong hardly ever trouble TeePee deliberations. Naked self-interest, tribal solidarity, and an enduring, if sneaking, regard for men of violence are the weird cultural co-ordinates that define TeePeedom.
Most unforgettably -- though of course, people do keep forgetting -- it is this recidivistic, principle-free wheeling and dealing of the powerful TeePee demographic that has repeatedly driven this State off the tracks, and into the swamps of perdition.