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Alien territory for a candidate who says what she thinks

Declan Lynch


Saoirse McHugh. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Saoirse McHugh. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Saoirse McHugh. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Saoirse McHugh in one sense is a Green candidate in Mayo. But in a deeper sense she is the main character in some Netflix series about a "tightly-knit" community which is visited by some sophisticated being who tries to understand their strange ways.

Naturally these "politicians", as they call themselves, don't try to understand her ways. And anyway they are terribly limited in their ability to think or to communicate, with most of them relying on a small number of phrases that they keep saying over and over again - "it's the economy, stupid"; "he would say that, wouldn't he?"; and the current favourite, "senior hurling". (You can have a bit of "ground hurling" too, but "senior hurling" is king.)

McHugh meanwhile, talks about loads of things, which to the "politicians" is incomprehensible - she just doesn't know the rules of this strange society to which she has inexplicably been transported, a problem which was evident about two minutes into her first visit, during the "European Elections" episode.

Straight away she was suggesting that the Greens shouldn't go into government with the main parties whose policies on Green issues are so poor - she said this because it was her honest opinion, but immediately the "politicians" had a kind of a collective seizure.

She just didn't know that she wasn't supposed to say things like that, and they couldn't handle it.

Now we are in episode two of this series which, for all its merit, has one major problem - usually in these things the visitor learns something from the primitive society, and vice versa. Except this time there will be no vice versa.

It is, of course, a comedy.


A friend of mine was once asked by a senior politician to write a speech for him about the west of Ireland. My friend had no idea what to write, and the only advice I could give him was to use the word "community" a lot. They love the old "community". Sure enough the politician loved it.

I now turn to a quote from an FAI review of Irish football published last year, with the backing of Niall Quinn: "The GAA are a model in our country for outreaching to community programmes and a shared reverence across community gaelic games with respect to instructions and mandates that come from GAA HQ as a simple result of their shared commitment to the community values..."

That's a three-community sentence there, and there's another 25 words still to go, but we'll stop it there.

With Quinny on the case at the FAI, perhaps the only thing we know for sure is that the Irish football "family" is now the Irish football "community".

Exciting times.

Sunday Independent