Fintan O’Toole is, for my money, the most insightful commentator on Irish life, and has been for years. Like any of the rest of us, he has his hobby horses, and I’ve often been disappointed that he rarely turns his intellect to the rich grounds of the sustainability/climate/environmental catastrophe that’s now unfolding.
On Nama, he’s been superb. Were it not for the intervention of two of Fine Gael’s eminence grises, in the forms of Garrett Fitzgerald and Alan Dukes, I’m pretty sure the anti-Nama arguments, so forcefully articulated by O’Toole, would have prevailed. As it was, while naturally the Greens are getting it in the neck, in fact two ageing FGrs sealed its fate. The Greens pissed O’Toole off on Nama, and, thanks to John Gormley’s gormless travel arrangements, O’Toole has hit them in their ethics, where it really, really hurts.
What may have sealed the Greens’ fate with the electorate is this toe-curlingly embarrassing stuff about John Gormley taking the ferry to Holyhead, then getting picked up in a limo and driven to London, at a cost of €2,200. John bloody Gormley rides a bloody bike! And not just for show, he actually uses it as a goddam means of loco-goddam motion. Every day. Jaysus wept.
I just have to believe there is an honest explanation here somewhere, but the optics are disastrous and the FF smear-by-association this time has really stuck, and stuck firm. Based on the facts as presented to date, Gormley only has himself (or whatever gobshite books his travel plans) to blame.
Nor did he do much of a job on RTÉ radio on Sunday of limiting the damage. I wrote yesterday about the Greens’ apparent escape act in their Saturday conference. One thing I found hard to shake off in reading the lead-in to this special conference was the number of non-core items, from hare coursing and badger culling and stag hunting to repealing efforts at bringing in third level fees and getting more teachers back on the payroll.
Helooooooo. It’s 54 days to Copenhagen, and the last chance to get our collective arse out of the bacon slicer as the environmental crash draws ever closer. What’s all this other stuff about then? Making sure the sons and daughters of the upper middle classes get a massive subsidy from the general taxpayer so they can acquire highly lucrative qualifications, such as in medicine, pharmacy and dentistry with no strings attached might seem important, nay vital, to a few, but shurely this is just a smidgen off the radar as Ecological 911 beckons?
I could on and on, but I won’t. Kevin Myers, on the other hand, does and did. His metaphor this morning was of the headless chicken – it certainly described his own state of mind when he sat down to fulminate into his keyboard. The hilarious headline set the tone: “We should force-feed Greens their bikes until they choke”. It was all downhill from there.
Describing environmentalists as “pious reptiles’ foreskins” sums up his soaring Freshers Week rhetoric. Mildly amusing to drunk undergrads, but deeply disturbing from someone of Myers’ age. His own words best sum up his own intellectual quagmire: “Pathetic. Truly, desperately, unspeakably, shamefully pathetic.”
Meanwhile, over in the Daily Mail, columnist Richard Waghorne has the Greens down as “environmental zealots, prepared to put their unelectable eco-extremist agenda ahead of the national interest”. Way to go, Richard. Bulls eye, old bean.
The “national interest”, as defined by the Oirish Daily Mail appears to consist of third hand gossip and innuendo about what the late Stephen Gately might have been up to, and with whom, in the hours just before his death. That, of course, and its staple diet of homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, anti-intellectualism, soft-boiled Tory Little England-ism and sorry Richard if I missed out on any of your pet hates.