Tuesday 18 June 2019

Murphy wants all of the glory, and none of the blame

Paul Murphy wants to take the credit for protests - but not responsibility when they go wrong

Anti water charges TD Paul Murphy outside the Central Bank in Dublin before the crowd marched to Mountjoy Prison to protest at the jailing of Right to Water activists. Photo: Tony Gavin
Anti water charges TD Paul Murphy outside the Central Bank in Dublin before the crowd marched to Mountjoy Prison to protest at the jailing of Right to Water activists. Photo: Tony Gavin

Sarah Carey

Eeeeuw. Tricky, Paul. Tricky. That's what I thought as I watched Paul Murphy on The Late Late Show.

Then I found myself thinking about Tony Soprano and the Ancient Greeks. Or rather, a fascinating book called The Sopranos and Philosophy; I Kill Therefore I Am. In one chapter it analysed the unhappiness of the gangster boss through the prism of Aristotle and Plato who suggested that the man with inconsistent motives can never be happy.

"I want to be a good mafia boss/powerful politician/fabulous CEO" versus "I want to be a good family man."

It can't be done - because the internal struggle cannot be resolved.

Murphy looked like a man who was struggling on Friday night and not just because the interview went on a long time. In fact, I wondered if Tubridy's persistence actually swung sympathy toward Murphy.

People don't like it when someone is having a hard time on telly. But the fact that Murphy was having a hard time wasn't Tubridy's fault.

It was uncomfortable and awkward because Murphy has inconsistent motivations. He wants to take credit for leading the anti-water charges protests but he doesn't want to take responsibility for its failings.

He says he didn't organise the protest that resulted in Joan Burton's detention for two-and-a-half hours in Jobstown - but he was the guy who joined in the protest, brought a loud-hailer, provided chants and was willing to deal with the gardai in defusing it.

He says it's not particularly effective to stage protests against Michael D Higgins, but reckons "he's well able for it".

What does he know what Higgins is able for? He thinks it was wrong that a protester called Higgins the M-word, but supports that very same protester when he breaks a court injunction. He wants to lead a movement, but disowns it when it crosses a line. He's happy to use the water meter installations as a lightening rod for protests, but where was he when one of the installers was bitten?

And since many of those installers are sub-contractors with no-guarantees of work, as a Socialist why isn't he campaigning over their plight - rather than enabling their persecution?

You see the problem here?

As I watched Murphy repeatedly reach for his glass of water, I thought it an ironic symptom of his discomfort.

The line between his careful qualifications and the reality of the water protests is just too fine. He can't have it both ways.

But Murphy's real problem is that he cannot see that every time another protest crosses that line, the support of Middle Ireland melts away. Many Irish people aren't just angry but depressed; and they need genuine alternative political representation. For that reason I've often invited Murphy on to my Newstalk programme.

He's a great contributor: articulate and very civil. So he's always welcome and gets a fair hearing. But that's exactly why he's making a tactical error with these aggressive protests. Irish people just don't like it.

So every time people see a female politician like Burton; a sweet old man like Higgins or a hapless sub-contractor intimidated, they inch further away from the water charges protests.

The Socialists must have been delighted with water charges - finally a lightening rod for the revolution. But revolutions require mass support. Instead there is mass revulsion. Time to think it out again.

Sunday Independent

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