Henry McDonald discovers ‘independent senator’ Eoghan Harris February 16, 2009Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economics, Economy, Irish Politics.
A very welcome guest post from EWI
A recession-themed blog post with Irish interest last Friday by Henry McDonald of the Observer:
“One of those calling for such a government is a member of Ireland’s second chamber, the Seanad, who has himself crisscrossed the old traditional divides of left/right republican/nationalist over the last four decades.
Eoghan Harris, an independent senator, has been a spin doctor and political adviser to an eclectic band of parties ranging from the hard-left Workers party all the way across to Fianna Fáil under Bertie Ahern.
In between, his media strategy helped elect Mary Robinson, the first female and liberal president of Ireland, back in 1991.
He even crossed the border to come to David Trimble’s aid when the then Ulster Unionist leader tried to sell the Good Friday agreement to a sceptical unionist electorate.
Harris argues that the republic’s present plight is akin to a nation at war and that, in wars, parties unite to form national coalitions.”
Now, there’s a number of problems with this remarkably modest account of the adventures of one Eoghan Harris over the past couple of decades – “crisscrossed the old traditional divides of left/right republican/nationalist” hardly does justice to someone who has bounced from hard-left Stalinist to hard-right Bush (and Adhmed Chalabi, and Likudite, and other lovely causes) supporter – and one might reasonably wonder at how an old comrade like McDonald can be unaware of the finer details of such a colourful career (or fail to mention their personal connection in the old Sinn Féin – The Workers Party). Indeed, an innocent reading for the first time of this particular Irish senator might form the opinion that here indeed is a Hibernian Gorbachev, an intellect untramelled by the constraints of ideology, ready to shed light on the truths which lesser mortals cannot see.
Mar dheá. A suspicious mind might find it odd that the good senator should happen upon this idea just as a poll appears this week predicting the catastrophic electoral demise of Fianna Fáil (to whom, incidentally, Harris owes his Senate perk). An idea, moreover, which would divorce the main opposition party from their prospective Labour coalition partners (and leftward influence) and instead hitch them into Government with a political party committed to the very same cult of the free-market that got us here – and, of course coincidentally, policies which facilitate the rescue of FF’s privileged friends and benefactors in Irish society, and which are responsible for their hammering in the polls. Our hypothetical innocent reader might wish to enquire further into the subject of McDonald’s hagiography, given such recent Harris-emanated senatorial pronouncements as:
“There was a lot of talk of fat cats but “every wealthy person in Ireland, Tony O’Reilly, the Smurfits, whoever you want to name, has seen their wealth cut by between 50 and 60 per cent”.
He was struck with absolute disbelief about the case being made for those in the public service.
“I cannot understand how in a world of Dell and the Waterford workers, people in permanent and pensionable employment have so little grasp of reality.””
“Sir” Tony O’Reilly, of course, is the tax-exile billionaire whose patronage (and employment) Harris has enjoyed for many years as a faithful attack dog in various forums, and the conversion of whose Irish media interests to a pro-Bertie stance before the last elections led to a grateful FF leader giving Harris the reward of a cushy seat in the upper house. And Harris using a reference to Waterford Glass – which O’Reilly himself owned and has now closed, putting all those workers out of employment – to beat the public sector with? Pure class.