Sunday 22 April 2018

An unlikely role model in politics

It is an odd sight, unless perhaps you are a Sinn Fein supporter, when those who are attempting to preserve a hospital on safety and health grounds, threaten to shoot their local TD. Happily, when it came to Roscommon, the response of the Fine Gael TD Frank Feighan to this madness provided us with a rare example of 'True Grit' in Irish politics.

The endemic Irish political vice of localism in areas as diverse as airports, urban incinerators, the cutting of bogs and hospitals has provided us with as many episodes of political cowardice as the thousand and one tales in Arabian Nights. Seeing as such cunning miscreants were often rewarded, particularly by Fianna Fail, with ministerial positions, the prevalence of this vice is not surprising. It makes the rare stance taken by Mr Feighan in the interests of party discipline, the country and his own constituents, had they but brains to see it, all the more commendable. The Taoiseach too, will undoubtedly have in the more desperate times that are to come, good cause to be thankful for the example set by this unlikely role model.

Meanwhile, his Environment Minister Phil Hogan might be well advised to show some True Grit of his own and deal with the unedifying debacle of the Mahon tribunal. Such now is the state of chaos of this mess no one, least of all the minister, appears to know whether its report is finished or not finished. In the aftermath of the Ahern era, the Bertie-bowl may have evolved into the great symbol of the spendthrift politics of that unfortunate age but the most appropriate example of this nature that led to the collapse of the first Republic is actually the Mahon tribunal.

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