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Sarah Carey: Shouting abuse just leads to one thing in the end ... everyone ignores you


TD Paul Murphy

TD Paul Murphy

Protestors in Finglas

Protestors in Finglas


TD Paul Murphy

There are two kinds of revolution: violent or peaceful.

When the people of Greece found themselves thrown to the wolves, hundreds of thousands took to the streets and there were violent scenes. It achieved nothing.

When an election was held there last week and Syriza was elected into government, it changed everything.

We in Ireland are still at the 'hope' stage, but the fact remains that a democratically elected government can achieve what a riot never can.

The water protesters should take note, and so should Socialist Party TD Paul Murphy.

The protest outside Colaiste Eoin in Finglas, during which the President Michael D Higgins was targeted and abused, was disgraceful.


The personal abuse meted out to the President was completely uncalled for. Even if you agree with the importance of street protest, it didn't even make any sense to target him.

Therefore it behoves Murphy to condemn the entire affair. Instead, he defended the protester's right to protest - but not to verbally abuse the President.

He's said that the "midget" insult shouted at Higgins should not have been uttered, because it's "ableist" (that is, it offends people with growth restrictions).

Murphy admits that "tactically" there's not much point in the protest, but people have a right to do so.

He points to the fact that the President signed the water legislation into law.

What was Higgins supposed to do? He signed it into law because no matter how much you hate the water charges, they are constitutional.

The President is supposed to be above politics and refusing to sign the bill into law would have been a political act.

If Murphy - or anyone else - believed that the bill was legally dodgy, they could challenge it in the courts themselves.

If they haven't done that, then it must be because they know there's no point. If they know there's no point, why abuse the President for doing the right thing?

Is there anyone less deserving of this treatment than Michael D Higgins? A left-wing politician who spent most of his life, speaking out for socialist causes.

Perhaps the protesters have little knowledge of Higgins' career. Apart from that, while I didn't give him my no 1 vote, I can never get over how well his election turned out.

Higgins is a true gentlemen, bursting with pride in his office. Every time I see him beaming it gives me a lift. To abuse such a decent man out of total ignorance is so unfair.

So the political leaders of these protests have an obligation to ensure that they are carried out peacefully. It's not enough to single out the "midget" word in some politically correct act of piety.


All of the words used were deeply offensive. We've a lot to be angry about in this country, but we get some things right too. Never underestimate the value of civil discourse.

The odd thing is that when Murphy was appointed to Joe Higgins' MEP seat I asked him onto my Newstalk programme. I found him to be a great contributor. He had a fresh point of view and he argued his case in a polite and articulate manner. So we've asked him back several times.

When you make a case responsibly, people will listen. When you protest irresponsibly, no one wants to know. So above all, Murphy needs to emphasise to protesters that they do nothing but harm to their own side when they act in this fashion.

Because too many people don't want to be associated with them. Manners aside, for their own sake, they need to rethink.