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Let the new President speak… October 29, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Economy, Irish Politics, The Left.

…And an interview in the Mail by Jason O’Toole does precisely that. Apparently it took place earlier in the year, so it provides a reasonably recent insight into him when he was still a civilian, albeit with an eye on the Presidency. It covers a range of topics,
Same Sex Marriage and Abortion …

I have no problem whatever either with same sex-marriage. That’s my personal opinion. I also feel — you’ll find it in my poems very much — the price that was paid for this terrible intolerance in Ireland is very high. There are, for example, people for whom all of it has come too late. I go every year to England to meet people who had to leave Ireland to express their sexuality. So, that was an incredible travesty of these people’s right. I also think that if people want to live together in a marriage relationship, I say, ‘Why not?’ In relation to the life of the mother, I think the State has to face up to its responsibilities and legislate for the life of the mother, however complex it is. [Asked if he agreed with the right to abortion] I think it depends on the termination time. It depends on the case. I think the woman has the right to protect her health. I’m in favour of legislation that will not put any risk on the mother’s health.’


‘I’m a spiritual person. I attend Catholic ceremonies. I don’t think that anyone who is serious could say that they weren’t a spiritual person. I don’t think the world we live in can be reduced into a simple material for expression. If you like, the rational world can only bring us so far; there is a transcendent aspect to our existence — things that move you and so forth. I have great respect for the humanist tradition, But I’m not simply a humanist myself. I feel there is an inheritance that comes through the culture of belief systems. So, when you say to me, “Are you a practising (Catholic)?” I wouldn’t know what it was. I don’t believe in heaven and hell. What I think about it is that they don’t enter into my thinking very much. Does life end in the moment of physical death? We’ll continue to speculate on it, but I think that there is a spiritual dimension to our existence that is not turned into physically. That’s as far as I would go.’

His career to [then] date:

‘I have 25 years (as a TD). I stood for the first time in 1969. I was in the Seanad from ’73 to ’77 and from ’82 to ‘87. I was 25 years in the Dáil and nine years in the Seanad. I’ve been a frontbench spokesperson for all of my time. And I’ve also been a minister, as you know, from 1993 to 1997. I’m lodging all my papers in the National Library. They’ve already started. I think over the years I must have about 20 chapters in other people’s books, so then I would have some of the stuff from Hot Press and then I have my own books as well, and I’ve a lot of published poems. And all that stuff is going to the National Library.’

Attacks on him for abolishing Section 31 and establishing TG4- by the way kudos to him for that and interesting who led the charge against him:

… I think that I was treated unfairly about two things — the first is the abolition of the order of Section 31 (of the Broadcasting Act) [forbidding the broadcasting of Sinn Féin members’ voices]. The other thing, which is something I’ve never regretted, is my decision to establish Teilifís na Gaeilge, which is now TG4. There was one edi t ion of the Sunday Independent that had five articles attacking me on one or other of those topics. Some of the stuff was highly personalised.’

A long time wish to be President:

‘My main concern in 2004 — and I think I’ve been proved right — was the discourse that we should be having. I was aware that Ireland had changed and that we were at a very vulnerable stage. In the period between 1997 and 2004, a whole series of things were beginning to shift and you had a kind of radical individualism in the country that was beginning to change everything. So, in 2004 I wanted a campaign in which you would have a debate about what kind of Ireland you wanted. And I feel that we missed an opportunity there. Yes, it did upset me.’

And what he hopes to do in the post:

‘I think I can bring a very positive energy to it. I have very definite views about it. Remember, by training I’m a political scientist, so I know the limitations and the possibilities of the office. In addition, I’ve also been in nearly ever elected office you have. Remember I’ve been on the county council, I was a senator and a Dáil deputy and a minister. I was President of the European Council of Culture Ministers in 1996. I know the institutional grounds — the space, if you like. The President can’t be an organised force of opposition against the government of the day. The oath you take which says that you dedicate yourself to the welfare of the Irish people.

And points to the interesting decade ahead:

You are also able to look at themes that are not arising as problems now. For example, the next President will deal with some very significant dates — 1912, the founding of the Labour Party; 1913, the Lockout; 1914, the Great War; 1916 and so on. If you were to take where we are now in this recession, which has turned into a depression — and I think it is a depression — and if you were trying to say to people: “Look, i t’ s the people who really object to impunity but, that having been said, we move on from recrimination on to envisaging what you’re going to do about the future.” There is scope there and the difference between different versions of the presidency is how you use your discretion. And the discretion is where you make speeches, what topics you pick.

And a troubling political background from his early days which it is astounding didn’t come out during the campaign. OSF? PSF? Why no…:

‘I was a member of the Fianna Fáil Kevin Barry Cumann for about six months in 1966. It was before I went to America. We invited ministers down to tell us about their policies. I remember Seán Flanagan. But they didn’t feel that they were treated with sufficient respect and they reported the cumann. So, I think we would’ve been dumped. I think I was on the way out anyway if I hadn’t gone to America.’


1. sonofstan - October 29, 2011

I don’t think that anyone who is serious could say that they weren’t a spiritual person.



WorldbyStorm - October 29, 2011



neilcaff - October 29, 2011

The usual arrogance of the religious. They will generally go on to say, with an entirely straight face mind, that atheists are often arrogant towards the religious!


WorldbyStorm - October 29, 2011

Well, in fairness he doesn’t seem to be exactly religious. No heaven, no hell and no religious observance. Though I take your point that it’s odd he can’t see that some people simply don’t have any interest in such matters.

Mind you some atheists are arrogant towards the religious.


2. Clive Sullish - October 29, 2011

‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not (Jer. 5.21)
In the excerpt above, MDH acknowledges that he is an atheist (‘I don’t believe in heaven and hell. What I think about it is that they don’t enter into my thinking very much. Does life end in the moment of physical death? We’ll continue to speculate on it …’). Yet he is accused of by a contributor here of displaying ‘the usual arrogance of the religious.’ Another of your contributors persists in calling MDH ‘a pompous windbag’ or somesuch every time he mentions him. Two questions arise: (1) why is neilcaff unable to correctly interpret what MDH is telling him? (2) why does MDH persist in dressing up his atheism by talking about spirituality, and thus muddying things somewhat? I’ll try to answer the second.
MDH has been a campaigner for some version of socialism since the late 1960s. Over the years, he has been a public advocate of secularism (in education and elsewhere), of divorce and reproductive rights. In seeking support for these positions, he has had to win votes in Connemara and Kilbeacanty, as well as in urban areas. He has had several of his campaigns disrupted by people whose only wish to ‘knock him out’ as it were – and they succeeded on a couple of occasions. An example was a self-styled rosary crusade which followed his canvasses around in one campaign, asking people just canvassed by his team not to vote for ‘that atheist and abortionist.’ At any public meeting, MDH had to be prepared to field questions about his religious beliefs. Rightly or wrongly, but understandably, he resorted to evasiveness (windbaggery?) about ‘spirituality’ in such circumstances – and would have been able to justify this to himself and those who knew him well in that he wasn’t that interested in material things, that he felt compassionate towards people in adversity, that he liked music, art, poems and going for country walks. The plea that everyone ‘who is serious’ is spiritual should be understood in that context. (We may not go to mass, but we like to commune with nature). Rather than being regarded an expression of ‘the arrogance of the religious’ it should seen as a plea for the right of the non-Catholic/non-believer to play a part in politics. It’s probably old hat and unnecessary at this stage (though Dana did have a go at him in at least one of the debates for his secularist abortionism), but the formulation enabled him to survive in the bear-pit of Galway West politics in the 1970s and 1980s.


EamonnCork - October 29, 2011

Good points well made. But the whole, ‘I’m not religious but I’m spiritual,’ formulation is one of the great cliches of our time. Boiled down, what it often means is that the person in question really, really likes Leonard Cohen. And the Steve Earle albums after he gave up the drink and drugs. It’s also a kind of default position in Irish poetry, Heaney and Longley kind of go in for this vague pantheism. Whatever gets you through the night. The whole S but not R thing can also be seen as a reaction to losing religious faith but not taking the next rather frightening logical step. Who wouldn’t want to believe that there’s a destiny out there which shapes our ends rough hew them though we may. In fairness to Ireland, Michael D got elected president without having to make the kind of religious declarations which are compulsory for US presidential candidates. Not to knock another man’s racket but does anyone really believe in Obama’s religious conviction?


ejh - October 29, 2011
sonofstan - October 29, 2011

Good points well made. But the whole, ‘I’m not religious but I’m spiritual,’ formulation is one of the great cliches of our time. Boiled down, what it often means is that the person in question really, really likes Leonard Cohen


Religion is quite hard and demands a fair bit in terms of faith, commitment, self- denial and discipline – it’s quite a struggle to believe in the absurd (in the Kierkegaardian sense – not an insult), and the genuinely religious will always, I suspect, be tormented by doubt.

Being ‘a deeply spiritual person’ on the other hand, is entirely self- indulgent: it bears the same relation to real faith as being a bit Green does to proper politics.


sonofstan - October 29, 2011

And BTW Eamonn, what have to say for yerselves down there in CSW?


Crocodile - October 29, 2011

Reminds me of a cherished quote from that great thinker, Sharon Stone, who introduced the Dalai Lama as ‘the hardest working man in spirituality.’


Michael Carley - October 29, 2011

Somebody translated `I’m not religious but I am spiritual’ as `I’m scared of dying but I can’t be arsed going to mass.’


neilcaff - October 31, 2011

Michael D may or may not think he is an atheist but if you believe in ‘spirituality’ then you are not an atheist, self serving flim-flam notwithstanding.

What I was objecting to was this: “I don’t think that anyone who is serious could say that they weren’t a spiritual person.” (Emphasis my own)

It’s perfectly possible to hold the liberal positions Michael D holds and still be religious, it’s even possible to be non observant in your particular faith and still consider yourself religious or ‘spiritual’ as Michael D puts it.

Now all of that’s fair enough since I don’t particularly care what Michael D’s wooly theological views are. What is annoying though is his dismissal of people who take a non ‘spiritual’ view of life and yes it is consistent with the sort of twaddle you hear from religious people when they find out you are an atheist.


Budapestkick - October 31, 2011

Spiritual people believe in magic. Religious people also believe in magic but their magic has a great deal more intellectual coherence. Spiritualism is handy though, in terms of allowing a comforting belief in magic without any actual work or thought.

Also, am I the only one here who hasn’t quite forgiven Mao for his failure to kill the Dalai Lama?


FergusD - October 31, 2011

I think I dislike the “vague pantheism” more than the adherent of a mainstream religion, even than Catholicism (which I dislike a lot!). I have had numerous frustrating discussions withe friends who subscribe to “vague pantheism”, maybe teh western world’s fastest growing, maybe even biggest, belief system – sor of. Vague pantheism is so woolly and pathetic. It is so pointless as it explains nothing and, from what I can make out, is not even a guide to action. So waht purpose does it serve? At least the Bishop of Rome provides that for those deluded enough to follow him.

Rant over!


Clive Sullish - November 8, 2011

I see that “with the usual arrogance of the religious,” Michael D. is insisting that there be “a humanist element to the [Friday’s inauguration] ceremony in addition to the traditional prayers.” That’s according to today’s Irish Times. According to the same report, he will also “pause and reflect in the room where James Connolly was held before execution.” Some will encouraged by this; others, I expect, will see it as terrible hypocrisy.


Budapestkick - November 8, 2011

I myself will demonstrate how little I care about Michael D. Higgin’s inauguration by emitting a little fart. Not a big one mind, just a little one, though I think my flatmate has noticed it but is too polite to complain.


Clive Sullish - November 8, 2011

I’m sure your flamate won’t mind the smell, Budapestkik, if you spare him your verbal flatulence


Budapestkick - November 9, 2011

You Clive, are a man who implicitly suggested that Michael D. Higgins (who voted for the most right-wing programme for government since the 1920s) pausing to ‘reflect’ about James Connolly would be a source of encouragement. Given that Michael D. Higgins voted for the most right-wing programme for government in the history of the state I imagine he will reflect on such important matters as:
‘My God, what a hypocrite I am’
‘Will anyone give a toss about this meaningless gesture?’
‘I wonder if Clive will be encouraged by my look of deep concentration’
‘I hope Joan gives the unemployed a good kicking. I’m glad I didn’t make an arse of myself by voting against that vicious programme of austerity’
‘I hope adding a humanist element to the ceremony goes down well. I like humanism. Some of my best friends are humans’
‘It’s astonishing some people think I’m secretly left-wing despite the fact my actual actions indicate otherwise’
‘Did someone fart?’


Clive Sullish - November 9, 2011

You’re right of course, Budapestkick. How was I ever taken in by that charlatan?


3. Tomboktu - October 29, 2011

Michael D Higgins’s last substantive speech in the Dáil:

As other speakers have done, I thank those who have sat in the Chair at different stages, for their courtesy and kindness to me over a very long period. I have been here in this Chamber for 25 years, with nine years in the Seanad and since I first stood for election 42 years ago. I am indebted not just for the courtesy of Members of this House, the staff and ushers and others, but also on occasion, for their kindness as well. Gabhaim buíochas ó chroí leo agus le mo chomhghleacaithe thar na blianta.

I want to take advantage of the wide range of speeches that have preceded me, including those on Dáil reform. Nevertheless, I wish to concentrate on what makes up some of the contextual background to what we are discussing. I wish the next Government well. It is a Government I hope to look at from a distance. I have already said I am very grateful for the kindness and courtesy of my colleagues in this House over the years and I hope not to be saying goodbye to them. If I succeed in getting the Labour Party nomination for the presidency, I look forward to meeting them all in their constituencies in a less formal setting.

When I first stood for election in 1969 I was very conscious of something that is important to me. I was leaving an academic world in which I had spent a great deal of time and on which I had expended a great deal of anxiety in order to secure entry. People from backgrounds such as mine did not go to university, did not qualify in other universities and certainly did not teach in universities. I left that world to participate in public life which was part of the tradition of my family. I wish people from all walks of life took part in politics and in public life. It is very important to act in the public space with whatever, as Connolly would put it, gifts of hand or brain one has, and to deliver it for one’s fellow citizens. I was conscious in 1969, however, of the great failure of a country that then called itself a republic. I believe no real republic has been created in Ireland. The failure has been of three kinds. There has been a failure in making political power republican, a failure in making republican any kind of administrative power and a failure with regard to communicative power. Without being technical about each of these, I think those who wanted Ireland to be independent would have envisaged a country in which there would be far greater distribution of power, that it would not be confined solely to the exercise of parliamentary democracy.

Parliamentary democracy is incredibly important. For many years, people in Ireland struggled to have their own parliament and struggled to participate in it. But there is more to political power than voting once every four or five years; there is the exercise of power in every dimension of life. If a real republic had been founded, we should have been spending decades extending and deepening political power. To the credit of the Labour Party, that has been its intention and aspiration, however achieved, since it was founded in 1912. With regard to administrative power, it is quite appalling there was no real change from the time the Treasury dominated in the olden days in the hand-over to the Department of Finance. As a political scientist I find it quite extraordinary that so much attention has focused on changing the electoral system and so little on the structure of Cabinet power. There is no constitutional basis for the hegemony of the Department of Finance; it was a practice that flowed seamlessly from the British Treasury and adopted without question. If one wanted to effect radical change, one would break the connection between the monopoly enjoyed by the Government of the day and Parliament. One would allow, for example, the establishment of a committee system with the right to initiate and change legislation. If one wanted to go further as in the Scandinavian model, it would be to allow committees to have limited budgetary powers, thus ensuring people who came into politics would have a career in politics separate from being on the Front Bench if in opposition or being in Cabinet if in government. These are real reforms but they are empty and missing from the discourse. I have the impression that even though the Labour Party has produced 140 proposals which I strongly support, including in particular its proposals on citizenship, I find, generally, there is an element of fright in what those elected are suggesting as if they are offering themselves for reform, as if that was the major problem. That is not the problem.

I will give my opinion on where I think this is going, having spent my lifetime, not just in elected politics but also in academic politics and the social sciences, another area of great failure. I say this as a founding member of the Irish Sociological Association and the Irish Political Science Association. One need only watch television and listen to radio to know what is happening internationally. A significant price is already being paid for the broken connection between the aspirations of the people of this planet and those who take decisions on their behalf. The distinguished political scientist, Jürgen Habermas, has suggested that people can be invited to be bound by rules and by decisions in which they have had a chance consciously to participate. In one part of the world after another, we have the assumption that rational parliaments will be able to solve global problems such as the food crisis, the environmental crisis, the energy crisis or whatever. At the same time, very serious people are suggesting that parliament is what is irrational and that markets are rational when in fact all of the evidence shows it is the flow of international market capital which is completely unaccountable and is irrational. There is not one jot of evidence since the crash in the 1920s in the United States, as both Professor Samuels senior and junior have stated, that the markets are rational. There is strong evidence for the speculative consequences of markets.

On the other hand, people have put all their trust in parliaments and all over the world, parliament is losing. In the European Union, for instance, we are in the gravest danger of sinking back to a common market rather than a Europe beyond wars which might have been a Europe of all the citizens. The citizen deficit in Europe is its most serious failure. That is why those who want to defend their banks, be they French Presidents or German Chancellors, are defending their francs rather than the possibilities of Europe. They have put us in such danger as regards the European project.

There was a great opportunity missed to build a real inclusive republic in Ireland which would have reformed the relationship of Cabinet to the Dáil structures, that would have had a democratic, local government, that would have allowed opportunities for participation. There has been a political failure to establish a republic. There has been an administrative failure whereby administrative structures are hierarchical and patriarchal. I listen to those speaking about the clash between being a legislator and a representative and the consequences of clientelism about which I wrote in the 1970s. This is because of an authoritarian administrative system that never saw the citizen in the French republican sense of being an equal. It was because the relationship of the citizen with the State system was devalued. There is a communicative power where there is no connection between the vulnerability, the struggle and the agony of ordinary people at this time and the description of what is news, of what is happening in the world which they inhabit. They do not have equal access to the story, rather it is for those who work in the sector. I was Minister with responsibility for broadcast communications. This is not an Irish phenomenon. Across Europe and the western world, people will say that they must be cynical about presenting what the viewing or listening public will accept as the news of the day. This kind of artificial connection between what is moral and what is ethical is incredibly dangerous. It is widening an excluded underclass in Ireland. It is creating people who will move quickly to conflict because there are no mediating institutions in Europe. In one country after another across Africa and Asia, as people overthrow dictatorships they place their trust first in representative institutions and then, if they are let down, they are into a straight conflict with what are regarded as the forces of law and order. The result is war and the waste of human and other resources in the terrible tasks of war.

I say this not to depress anybody but simply to state that since I was a child in County Clare I have had a belief in the power of education and in the power of ideas. However, I believe an enormously high price has been paid for a kind of anti-intellectualism and authoritarianism in Irish culture. Therefore, I believe we need to draw one conclusion. We need not suggest that that which has failed us should or can be repaired. This is why the Labour Party is incredibly important in leading a government. We need to go back and recover the promise of a real republic that would be built on citizenship and that would reject as outrageous in a republic the kind of radical individualism epitomised in that ugly statement of Michael McDowell’s that inequality is needed for the stability of society. It ranks with the mad Margaret Thatcher view that there is no such thing as society. It stands there as such a notion. People should have seen immediately how incongruous it was to speak like this with the language of radical individualism.

Instead of speaking about the republic that might be created people spoke about getting a bit of the action. Suddenly it was no longer important to have just one house for shelter or to have another for pension purposes, in case a family split up or somebody retired. One needed a string of houses and thus our property bubble was created within a bubble of speculative capitalism that had flowed from an attack on the Glass-Steagall Act in the United States which had introduced regulations following the great crash. President Clinton gave in after several years of lobbying by those who stated it was necessary to get rid of all of the regulations so that the instruments needed by the market could be pushed out to absorb what was regarded as an endless flow of credit. What was this? It was an irrational form of capitalism and thus one of the projects now is the idea of whether capitalism can save itself again.

I believe that as Ireland moves into a time when we can celebrate the founding of my party, the great lockout and 1916 we need to think about an entirely different kind of society. I am immensely practical about this. I can suggest, I have spoken and I have written elsewhere and will continue to do so that what one would do — if one wanted to deliver what I am describing in terms of political participation, administrative fairness and the equality of the right to communicate — would be to speak about a floor of citizenship below which people would not be allowed to fall. One would make secure children from the time of birth to very old people who wonder whether they will have to leave their homes to die, as they frequently do within 18 months of being sent to a nursing home. One would make it possible that children share the same class and for that period of their lives at least would be able to be equal with regard to education. In addition to this, people would have decent housing.

This was the agenda when Sean O’Casey wrote about disparity. James Connolly took the Irish Citizen Army with its egalitarian agenda and placed it side by side with nationalism. The lesson we learned from this was when the egalitarian socialist agenda was placed side by side with the nationalist agenda it would be the socialist agenda which would lose. This was in the dialogue immediately before the meeting of the first Dáil when Michael Collins told the IRB it need not bother with this because they were just going through with it.

Those of us in favour of a version of Ireland where no one will fall below the floor must say it not only to ourselves but also to Europe. In addition, a highly participative inclusive republic was the one in the vision of those who made the case for Irish independence at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It was this which was stolen from the people after the foundation of the State when the conservatives marched into all the principal professorships including education and philosophy. UCD became a stable for conservatism and suddenly one had the continuation of an administrative nightmare and the robbing of the people of the delivery of the republic with regard to their ordinary lives.

Frequently, people such as Slavoj Zizek have said to me that if things are as I describe them then what is needed is a form of terror that would sweep everything away and to start all over again. A terrible price would be paid for this so therefore one must put one’s faith in representative democracy and having done so one wants it to work. If one wants it to work one must be open to making the type of institutional changes that I mean. How could this be carried? There is need for a discourse in which we are able to speak about the vulnerabilities that matter and where there is not a huge gulf between what we say in here and what is happening on the street.

People wonder why poverty has to reproduce itself in the same family from one generation to another or from one area to another and wonder why there is a difference between the quality of schools in one place and the quality of those in another. God did not make it like that. Nature did not make it like that. The people in the so-called Irish Republic made it like that and they maintained it like that. I remember in County Clare when one could point to the two or three people in the Labour Party because they lived in a galvanised house. People would explain that they were Labour in the same way as they would say they were on the margins of society, and they were. Therefore, with regard to thinking the Finance Bill is necessary for this that or the other, I hope the new Government realises that the model which is broken should not be repaired and that there is a discourse now which is wider and which is not only in Ireland but in Europe, where citizens are wondering what institutions might best express that which we wish to share with each other, where the concept of interdependency is accepted and where it would be regarded as obscene to state that radical individualism is what is important and what must drive us. All that radical individualism with its privileged view of professions and its side of the mouth politics with regard to benefit and privilege is what must be rejected.

This has a practical expression in Europe. If we create here a radical inclusive republic we will place it in a social Europe which accepts the interdependency of peoples rather than the aspirations of the elite property owning classes and individual countries. We would then be able to be a region in the global sense that offered guarantees about labour, security and peace. It would be a powerful moral voice in the world with regard to having alternatives to war and allowing people their own paths to development which would be very attractive.

With regard to the Bill the question the people ask, which the new Government must address, is why. The new Government must speak endlessly about jobs. This is the point for people who lose their jobs or are told they must be made unemployed. Everyone here is very reasonable and I ask people to be at least accurate about one thing I remember in this House, which is the night in September 2008 when Labour Party was left alone. The vote was 124 votes to 18 votes. We were the 18. We voted and sustained debate through two nights with regard to an unlimited guarantee that joined the debts of our speculative banks to the deficit issues of the economy. This is what we are facing tonight. I am sorry that as young a Deputy as Deputy Doherty would take it upon himself to suggest that the Labour Party was participating in any cabal. After all it was he who said on 1 October 2008 in the Seanad:

This legislation is about more than the banks. It is about offering security to ordinary citizens and to investors in Irish businesses which in turn means jobs. As the media speculated, other states may well follow this move by our State…my party welcomes this decisive move . . . I support this Bill.

With respect, it was a disaster.

I also say this now looking forward: I hope the discourse we will have now will speak about inclusion. This Bill contains some good measures, but there are also ridiculous ones. I will give one example of what I meant by the phrases, political power, administrative power and whatever. In my long time in here people agitated, for example, for the equality legislation that was introduced by my colleague, Mervyn Taylor. People imagined that when we had got the equality legislation we had arrived at a particular point, but the political science would have indicated that political power was useless without administrative power. It was only when the equality legislation was followed through with the Equality Authority and Combat Poverty Agency that it was possible to administer the benefit that had been won politically. That is the meaning of administrative power and is why we lost the Combat Poverty Agency and the Equality Agency to the right and had all the cuts. That is what citizens in a republic want; they want more political power and want administrative power. They want to communicate their vulnerability and want to be able to respond to each other’s independency. The very last thing they want is more of that terrible saying that has brought us to this point now. That is why I am proud to be president of the Labour Party. If we have failed from time to time, what is never in doubt is that we were speaking about a real republic that has yet to be built in this State.


CL - October 29, 2011

“There is not one jot of evidence since the crash in the 1920s in the United States, as both Professor Samuels senior and junior have stated, that the markets are rational”-MDH, above.

Who are these 2 Professors Samuels does anyone know?


Tomboktu - October 29, 2011

I wonder if he was talking about the Galbraiths senior and junior


CL - October 29, 2011

-I wonder if he was talking about the Galbraiths senior and junior-Tomboktu, above. Could be.
In any case MDH agrees that the markets are irrational. Which puts him in a peculiar position; he is president of the Labour party which is implementing an economic policy whose purpose is to placate the irrational markets by depressing working class living standards.


Mark P - October 29, 2011

And how long was it before he spouted this endless turgid bollocks that he voted for NAMA?


Clive Suillish - October 29, 2011

That would have been a very telling point, Mark P, if he had voted for NAMA. As I recall, he didn’t.
With regard to the ‘turgid bollocks’ and the ‘pompous windbag’ of your earlier post, it’s relative, I suppose. By comparison with your own elegant turn of phrase, most of us would rate as turgid and pompous. But why the virulent hatred?


Oireachtas Retort - October 30, 2011

Video of the speech is here as you don’t get the sense of the when the arms where swinging from the transcript . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJJ5q1_5jX8

I remember watching the speech on the day. He managed to get in a nod to Habermas and Zizek then Michael Moynihan got up after and started going on about something he read in Tubridy’s book. If there was ever a sign of the end of era.

He was Níl to Nama along with the rest of the opposition


sonofstan - October 30, 2011

Frequently, people such as Slavoj Zizek have said to me that if things are as I describe them then what is needed is a form of terror that would sweep everything away and to start all over again.

What’s good and annoying about him in one sentence, really: it would have been so much less irritating if it had been phrase ‘as SZ says’. 🙂


4. Mark P - October 29, 2011

Are you saying that he broke the Labour Party whip, Clive? I’d be interested in seeing some evidence of him finding one tiny bit of backbone, but I’m sceptical. He was after all a Minister in the government that privatised TEAM Aer Lingus and part privatised Telecom Eireann. He didn’t resign. He voted for the tax amnesty too, didn’t he?

Michael D Higgins is a neoliberal politician. I have broadly the same hostility to him that I have towards any Fine Gael or Fianna Fail politicician, with an added side order of the contempt so richly earned by ex-radicals who make their peace with the system and become stalwarts of that system. He just comes up more often in conversation on left sites than most of them because some fools insist on thinking of him as still somehow on the left.

As for him being a pompous windbag, that’s quite independent of his politics. He was a pompous windbag when he was on our side too.


Mark P - October 29, 2011

Hang on, now that I think back on it, Labour voted against NAMA and promised to “review” the whole thing when they came into government. They have not of course “reviewed” anything. So Higgins obeyed the party whip and voted against.

Everything else I said about him was accurate.


5. Clive Sullish - October 29, 2011

Translated from MarkP-ese into the turgid bollocks employed by the rest of us. you’re saying: ‘the facts on which I based on my opinions are wrong; my opinions however remain correct’


Mark P - October 29, 2011

No Clive. I was wrong about the Labour Party’s support for NAMA. They haven’t done anything about it when in office, contrary to their promises at the time, but they didn’t vote for it.

I was not wrong about Michael D Higgins. He was a radical once upon a time. Then he abandoned his left wing views around the time he was offered minor Ministerial office. From that point on, he voted for coalition with FF and FG, voted for Reynolds and Bruton as Taoisigh, vote for the Tax Amnesty and was a Minister in a right wing government which carried out major privatisations. He was not one of the band of 50 Labour members who opposed the most right wing programme for government in the history of the state. He has not uttered a peep of criticism of the slash and burn policies of the present government.

You insist on viewing him in the rosy light of his distant past in a way that you presumably don’t do for Stagg, Rabbitte, Gilmore and the other ex-radicals in the Labour Party. As far as I can gather from your earlier post this may be because you have some personal fondness for him. It’s fair enough if you like him personally or prefer to wallow in nostalgia for when he used to fight the good fight, but don’t try to paint him as something he hasn’t been in nearly 20 years. It makes you look a fool.

There is nothing leftist about the man. He stood as a centre ground candidate for a capitalist party. Beyond that he’s remarkable only for the degree to which he loves to spout pious waffle. Fuck him. And fuck the self-congratulatory liberals who are all over twitter and facebook patting themselves on the back too, the nauseating pricks.


HAL - October 29, 2011

Who did you vote for Mark P


Budapestkick - October 29, 2011

I don’t know about Mark but I myself simply scribbled a warning about Gay Mitchell’s pyrophilia.


Mark P - October 29, 2011

I spoiled my vote, Hal, by writing something rude on it.


6. Reni's hairpiece - October 30, 2011

Mark P sees no difference between Gallagher and Mick D being president – foolish thinking that, if such terms themselves weren’t also wrong, sums up the problem with ultra-leftist as opposed to hard left thinking.


neilcaff - October 31, 2011

I would say it’s ultra left to think there is any substantive difference between Michael D and Gallagher.
Gallagher isn’t a fascist after all, hell he isn’t even as right wing as Dana!

The only difference in substance between Gallagher and Higgins is Gallagher tended to begin every sentence with ‘I’m an entrepreneur’ whereas Higgins at least had the decency to clothe his pro establishment, consensus driven campaign in warm and fuzzy rhetoric.

In other words Michael D annoys you less than Sean Gallagher and hey that’s ok, he annoys me less as well. But please don’t use Marxist phraseology to try and dress up your personal prejudices as some sort of profound political difference between the two.


Budapestkick - October 31, 2011

Thinking that Michael D. is somehow a left-wing candidate after voting in favour of the most right-wing programme for government since the 1920s is one of the many problems with ultra-deluded thinking rather than simply hard deluded thinking.


7. Clive Sullish - October 31, 2011

In fairness to to the SP, I gather that they generally voted 1 Norris, 2 McG, 3 MDH in Dublin W. It’s likely that MarkP followed that line, and didn’t simply write a pointless graffito on his ballot. An SWP member told me she’d voted 1 Norris, 2 MDH


Budapestkick - October 31, 2011

Actually Clive, most of us in the SP, to my knowledge, spoiled our votes (generally with something political like ‘Abolish the Presidency’) and then voted yes to capping judge’s pay and no to the inquiries referendum. There was no official party line in relation to the presidential vote though few of us would have voted for Michael D. Higgins on the basis that he voted in favour of the most right-wing programme for government since the 1920s, a fact that seems lost on some people.

There was a certain sympathy among comrades for Norris, primarily on the basis on his strong record on LGBT rights, though he couldn’t plausibly be described as a left-wing candidate. I would imagine comrades who didn’t spoil their votes would be more inclined to vote for him above the other candidates.

I myself took the opportunity of the presidential ballot to warn the public of Gay Mitchell’s stated intent to burn the Áras (a building of some historical significance) to the ground in a fit of unrestrained lust. If you consider that to be a ‘pointless graffito’ then it’s quite clear to me that you have little respect for either our heritage or the preservation of historically significant landmarks.

In fairness to Michael D., I have no fear that he will ever burn down the Áras in order to reach sexual climax.


EamonnCork - October 31, 2011

I think it’s unfair to presume Michael D will not burn down the Aras in order to reach sexual climax. Would it not be wiser to wait till he settles into the office before making such judgements?


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