This article originally appeared in the New York ‘Irish Examiner USA’ for7th May 2013
Going Beyond Outrage and Recrimination: Higgins Comes through Pure Gold
For me it was as exhilarating and marvellous as it was unexpected. And yet, having given it a little thought, unexpected is something that it should not have been. Almost from the moment that he became the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins has to some extent been indicating that he is not going to be content to just be another powerless figurehead, signing papers for those who consider themselves to be not only our leaders but our betters. And on Thursday, May 2nd, through a fascinating interview with the Financial Times, President Higgins has emerged for this cynic as pure gold. The fact that he has upset some of the Usual Suspects in going beyond what these detractors would consider his ‘proper remit’ just makes the savouring of this moment all the more exquisite. For although he may have infuriated some of those who don’t like him anyway, he has without doubt—and possibly even unintentionally—perfectly captured the mood of the Irish people, so long used to being represented in Europe by those with neither the talent, the wit or the guts to do that properly.
I could barely suppress a cheer when he spoke so eloquently on his wish for the European Union to avoid social unrest by getting rid of its current, controlling economic model and reforming the Central Bank. He said:
“It would have been of immense benefit naturally to growth, employment creation and investment if the commitment of separating banking debt from sovereign debt [as promised to Enda Kenny last summer] had in fact been implemented. It would give you the opportunity to breathe and create growth in the economy.”
Of course President Higgins is too intelligent to be unaware that the broken promises he touches on are likely to be the last. Indeed, for broken promise after callously broken promise he need look no farther than his own craven Government of Liars. He went on, again to state with complete accuracy:
“There is a real problem in what was assumed to be a single hegemonic model. The unemployment profile in Greece is different from the unemployment profile in Ireland. You need a pluralism of approaches.”
Extraordinarily enough—but then, not really, given the track record of our Committee of Chancers—several politicians lined up to say that the President was talking sense. And this despite the fact that these are the same ones who have helped in trampling the Irish people deeper and deeper into the dirt! Of course, they did wait until they saw what way the wind was blowing as regards the despised and hated electorate. As soon as it was obvious that we were on the side of Higgins out of the traps they came. No surprise to see that first up was Tánaiste Eamon ‘Tiny’ Gilmore. (Taoiseach Enda Kenny was holding back until he saw how things were going with his flunkey, so used is he now to having Gilmore as a kind of canary-in-a-coal-mine character. As a matter of fact, he is still holding back.) With a face so straight that I now wonder if the man is not simply the sociopathic liar I had thought him, but actually so self-deluded that he is with no real awareness of how he sounds, Gilmore said:
“The President has made a very significant contribution to the debate in Europe about where Europe is going.”
Seriously, can you believe this guy?
Not to worry, though. He soon slipped into the usual old sound bites about Higgins reflecting in his words the need for stability, growth, jobs and blah blah blah. Put a sock in it, Gilmore. We wanted to hear more on Higgins, not watch you trying to hitch a ride on the man’s coat tails. (Another one out of the traps was professional windbag Pat Rabbitte, by the way.) But that was jumped on pretty damned fast, I can tell you.
In that wonderful bastion of free speech, the Dail, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein brought up the subject of the President’s remarks but swiftly found out that we couldn’t be breaking with protocol. Jaysus, the unwashed outside in the street might get the idea that it was a place where you could discuss any ould thing that was popular with them; and then where would you be?
Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett was in there like a light to slap the presumptuous wench down, so he was: “No. We do not go there… We do not discuss the President in Dail Eireann.” (Didn’t we inherit and willingly accept an awful old load of pompous bollix when the Empire upon Which the Sun Would Never Set departed, just the same?)
Quite rightly Mary Lou came back with:
“Throughout Europe, people are waking up to the reality that austerity is not working. I note today that President Higgins is the nation’s voice.”
And therein you can now see the conundrum for our political goons. On the one hand, they can’t be having this nonsense. You can’t have a wee fella tearing into the European ‘ideal’ when he was only put there to utter the odd innocuous platitude that hopefully no one would ever pay any heed to, even if they happened to understand it. On the other hand, now that people are not only listening to him but thinking: “Hold on, this fella’s talking sense” they can’t be seen to be too distant from him either.
Here is Higgins on the endless cuts that we have had to endure in order to make sure that Kenny & Co. continue to look good in front of the Merkel Brigade:
“The polite version is that we are pragmatic. What we really need now is something that goes beyond outrage and recrimination.”
I’d give good money to be privy to some of the more interesting conversations in that well-frequented establishment the Dail Bar in the last few days. And I would not turn down a ten Euro note for every time the words “F*****g little big-mouth” were spoken. I mean the nerve of him! Coming out with his own opinions when he is supposed to have written approval from the Government first! As a matter of fact it wouldn’t do any harm if every bloody trouble-making journalist and even private citizen had to get written permission from us before the bastards went out and formed an opinion of their own.
Too late; it’s done and I’m not the only one that is happy to have someone actually saying what they think instead of what their unelected European leaders tell them to think. In fact I’d like to see this grey area addressed altogether. After all, we know that our lot can change things under cover of darkness when it suits their agenda. So what is it to be? Article 13 (7) 1 of the Constitution says that his utterances have to be approved; but 13 (8) 1 states: “The President shall not be answerable to either House of the Oireachtas or to any court for the exercise and performance…of these powers and functions”.
The Ongoing (and ongoing) Abortion Issue
Well, I suppose that our beauties will wait until things settle down a bit before they have a go at putting him back into his box. I’m hopeful though that he won’t stand for that. Certainly, at the moment he appears to be quite unrepentant.
In fact I’d like to hear what he has to say about the ongoing abortion…uh, debate, for want of a better word. We have another fourteen or so weeks of this to go and as of this moment neither side is appearing as particularly attractive. And I’m fully certain that the tricks are only going to get dirtier and more underhanded as time goes on. This is something that people really start frothing at the mouth over. I’ve given my opinion, such as it is, some weeks back and since I’ll no doubt have to revisit it at some stage I’ll stay out of it for this week. (Well, as much as I can. Never been very good at that kind of thing, really.)
Anyway, Michael D. Higgins has apparently made some ‘guarded’ references to it in the same interview but they have so far yet to be seen. Still, I’d rather hear from him than from the Catholic Church. Don’t get me wrong, I know that they have to give us their two cents’ worth on this subject (although I’d be very happy if I never heard them expound on anything again); but it is a bit rich for Cardinal Sean Brady to be doing the lecturing. I mean, there are still plenty of questions that could be clarified on his behaviour towards and non-handling of the Brendan Smyth case. Apart, that is, from answers of the ‘it was early in my career’ and ‘I was only following orders’ variety. I don’t know about his brethren and camp-followers but that kind of bull doesn’t sit with me at all. (Sitting Bull, geddit?) In fact, the idea of any of that crowd imagining that they can give advice on morality just makes me laugh.
At least over in Mexico we had another member of the gang being honest in his beliefs. Fabio Martinez Castilla, who was promoted to Archbishop by Benedict XVI last year, decided to celebrate his anniversary by telling his congregation in the Cathedral of San Marcos:
“Qualitatively, abortion is much more serious than the rape of children by priests.”
Did you get that? Me, I like a guy who will say exactly what is on his mind. Of course, if you are in any way normal you will find that grotesque statement to be inhuman, bizarre and just plain wicked in the extreme. But still: I like to know where I stand with these men of God. (Wonder what he would say if it was an abortion to be performed on an innocent who had been raped by a priest. Just a thought.)
I would finally like to just throw out to you this email I received in response to some of my own remarks a while back. I found it very interesting and worth quoting in full. I’ve checked with the writer and she doesn’t object to being named. She is Amanda King of Galway.
“I understand your views as a man, but as a young mother of 3 kids, I believe the right to have an abortion in extenuating circumstances is acceptable namely in a life or death situation as regards the mother or if a woman has been sexually abused. I have personally been through an experience with my first son John whom I suffered a cord prolapse with. At the time I had not been informed or told anything in pre-natal classes or appointments of the dangers of this. It was only when I reached the hospital a half an hour later that all hell broke loose; if I was conscious and aware of the seriousness I would have asked for hospital staff to save my child. On the other hand I was unconscious and if it came to a choice my mother– “next of kin”– would have told them to save me.
“If it’s a matter of just going out there and sleeping with someone without using contraception which is now readily available to anyone both male and female I certainly disagree with abortion in that case. The big issue here at the moment is availability of an abortion for a woman who claims she is “suicidal”. Was that woman suicidal when she conceived less than 3 months ago; it is very hard to believe that within a few weeks someone can feel so bad that she is suicidal? I find it hard to believe that anybody feeling suicidal or depressed should be feeling up to having any sexual relations.
“In the case of a woman that may be suicidal I don’t understand why they cannot continue with their pregnancy and upon giving birth adopt the baby as there are so many childless couples who cannot have children of their own and would be loving parents to a child.
“We have more education now, especially for young girls as regards the morning after pill etc. This thought of “it won’t happen me” is gone; if they have had unprotected sex they should be big and bold enough to realize they need this without having to realize a few weeks later they are pregnant and “WANT” an abortion.
“I firmly believe that if it is a case of life and death with a pregnant lady an abortion should be carried out immediately or as soon as this has been noticed.
As a mother I feel a child needs its mother more than the mother needs the child.
I think that I’ll refrain from commenting on that, although I would have some differing views. (Zip it for a change, Brady!) However, it pretty much speaks for itself; and many thanks for a different kind of input. Also, congratulations on coming through such an appalling ordeal. Aren’t you glad you didn’t have this next guy in attendance?
Another man being honest last week was Fine Gael TD and buffoon Peter Mathews, who was also giving us his well thought- out reasoning when asked if it was an acceptable risk for a woman to be allowed to continue with a pregnancy if it would damage her health. No messing around with Mathews. Quick as a flash he came out with:
“But sure, we’re all going to end up dead anyway.”
Good man, Peter! Again, what we’ve come to expect from Enda’s ‘new’ Fine Gael: compassion and sanity.
Remember this guy’s name if you ever come across him in a polling booth, Amanda.
Sure we’re all going to end up dead anyway?
You have to love them.