Ireland and the far-right… December 29, 2016Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
Interesting point in a column last month by Diarmaid Ferriter in the IT on leadership in Irish politics. I don’t actually agree with his main thesis about leadership, or rather I think that some policy, indeed ideology, might be no harm and might be even more important than leadership. Still what of this?
It is worth remembering the observations of the late journalist Mary Holland who, writing in 2002, expressed satisfaction that despite the lack of scope for initiative during the formative decades of this State, there was little appetite for far-right politics:
“I’ve written plenty of columns complaining about the lack of any real left-right divide in Irish politics and the consequent deadening effect of virtual consensus on most social and economic issues. But, at this period of transition, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that civil war politics served this State well. The fact that the political debate was rooted in whose grandfather shot who in the early years of the last century was a major factor in enabling us to escape the worst extremes of some of our most sophisticated neighbours.”
I wonder is that true. It certainly seems to have a degree of truth in it. And other factors, a small polity and population didn’t save other states from fascism. But is it enough to provide an explanation for what happened, and as importantly, what did not happen.
Just on his other point, I can’t help but feel the following scans oddly.
Given the scary developments internationally and the many domestic challenges, leadership is now essential in Irish politics, but the signs that the challenges can be met are not good. After 41 years in Dáil Éireann, Enda Kenny is obviously a ruthless survivor, and he may well be witty and humane, but there is no sense that he has a political vision to match the extent of current political tests. It is hard to see substance behind the soundbites spun by his advisers about the quest to be the “best little country”. What is required now is also what was required during the Lemass era: someone with a clear sense of direction, not beholden to advisers or spin and not clinging to power for the sake of it.
Doesn’t that sound, no doubt unconsciously, remarkably like some of the complaints of those who plumped for Trump earlier this month?