Everything changes except politics
Deaglán de Bréadún
Watching the film, Stella Days, one had to reflect that everything has changed in Ireland except politics. The movie, which is well worth seeing, stars Martin Sheen as a priest in a small country town in the 1950s who decides to open a cinema to raise funds for the building of a new church.
Sheen’s performance is brilliant as always and the cast in general, including the child actors, give a very good account of themselves. Stephen Rea stands out for his portrayal of a local politico – probably Fianna Fail, but he could just as easily be from “the other crowd”. Tom Hickey gives a fine rendition of a hungry, ambitious but fundamentally-conservative bishop who gives wary approval to his priest’s project.
The period detail is well-done although the bus to Limerick should have “Luimneach” instead of “Luimnigh” on the overhead banner-sign: nominative case, not genitive. Pardon the pedantry. Also, I don’t know if even now priests go into pubs – maybe they do, since I don’t drink myself.
The Stephen Rea character is on the narrow-minded dogmatic side of the political spectrum. Not so much a “cute hoor” as a “Holy Joe”. He disapproves of the cinema project on moral grounds.
We still have Holy Joes and cute hoors. The political system is broadly the same as it was then and, until that changes, we haven’t much chance of a different style of politics.
The Church, of course, doesn’t have anything like the same standing that it had in the time of Stella Days. On a Newstalk programme last Sunday, myself and other panellists were asked about the Ray D’Arcy remark on his radio show, that the Church had “f—ed up” the country.
My view was that the Church was unwise to make a formal complaint about it but D’Arcy’s comment was an over-simplification. The Church has a mixed record: it did some very good things in the sphere of education, for example. The record on protecting children from abuse was, of course, lamentable.
It’s a pity there always have to be Good Guys and Bad Guys in this country with no in-between. Maybe the ‘meeja’ are to blame. In that context, I am sure people are enjoying the spat between Anne Harris and Vincent Browne. Is it too much to call it a ‘vendetta’?