Have They All Had Charismadectomies?
Deaglán de Bréadún
The summer won’t be as quiet politically as previous years. We are awaiting important reports from ‘An Bord Snip Nua’ and the Commission on Taxation and, of course, the Greens will be wrestling very publicly with their consciences.
The great are only great because we are on our knees: Big Jim Larkin statue in O’Connell Street, Dublin (Photograph by Frank Miller)
The two reports could have implications for the referendum on Lisbon. The campaign will be ticking over during the summer months but it is unlikely to get into top gear until early September when the school holidays are over.
If, as may well be the case, various interest-groups (loosely-defined) are affected in a negative way by either of the reports, then they may decide to withhold support for Lisbon until their concerns are addressed.
We saw something of this from the farming organisations and some elements in the union movement prior to the last Lisbon vote. Might not go down too well with a frightened electorate worried about economic destruction.
In the meantime, Irish politics continues to suffer from a serious “charisma deficit”. In a country that can boast such leaders as Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Edward Carson and Jim Larkin, we really are in a sorry state at present in the inspirational leadership stakes.
Collins, Dev, Carson and Larkin all inspired their various bands of followers to such an extent that they would literally go out and die for them. Thankfully, we live in a much calmer time and neither want nor need that kind of devotion nowadays, thank you very much.
But to revive one of my favourite themes, there is hardly a decent orator among the current crop. I’m trying hard to think of one. There are some good speakers in the Seanad, like David Norris and Eoghan Harris. Except for Pat Rabbitte’s sharp and witty contributions, who have we got in the Dail? Eamon Gilmore has his moments.
The much-criticised Christian Brothers used to say to us way back when: “There’s been enough dying for Ireland; what we need now is people who will live for Ireland.” We are skulking in the shadow of possible disaster in economic terms and rarely in our island story has there been a greater need for self-sacrifice.
But who is there to issue the call? Who will face down the “Nimbies” with their selfish preoccupations? It’s not that we need latter-day Hitlers or Mussolinis, or anything like that, but who will persuade the nation to knuckle down, get a grip and hang on tight until we see our way through this economic storm?
Interestingly, neither Collins, Dev, Carson or Larkin had a spin-doctor, nor anyone who would resemble that description, as far as I know.