2016 election will pitch Kenny against Pearse
‘Instead of idealism, Fine Gael offers constitutional vandalism’
UN Veterans participate in the Commemoration Parade to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Easter Rising passes. Taoiseach wants to “go to the country in the sacred days of 2016”. PHOTOGRAPH: BRYAN O’BRIEN
You have to hand it to Enda: at least he has courage. I have in mind “courage” in the Sir Humphrey sense – as on the occasion when minister Hacker announces his determination to go through with some “principled” proposal of his, in the face of the warnings of his executive advisers.
Having listened patiently, Sir Humphrey declares: “Very courageous, minister”. The word “courageous” triggers a note of panic in Jim Hacker’s response: “Wha-wha-what do you mean ‘courageous?”
In announcing that the coalition will run its full term, and that the next general election will therefore take place in March 2016, the Taoiseach reveals himself to be possessed of a similar “courage”.
Until this week, we did not know how, as a nation, we might at this rather late stage hope to hit upon a way of adequately commemorating the revolution which begat our admittedly nominal freedom. Other nations remember their epic moments as a matter of course, but for us 2016 presents a host of impossible dilemmas which freeze us in our tracks.
We might well have wondered if anyone would have the imagination to take us beyond the idea of a line of politicians standing on the steps of the GPO, gazing at soldiers marching past. Until Tuesday last, the merest intrusion of the question provoked consternation and dismay, causing the issue to be avoided by anyone with the remotest means or power of delivering even the most modest proposal to save national face.
But then, imagining himself to be announcing that the Government would run its full term, the Taoiseach confirmed the form of the commemoration: an election which will pit the political class of 2016 against the heroes of a century ago.
Mr Kenny is sorely mistaken if he imagines that, in a contest in the spring of 2016, the test of his stewardship will be a comparison with Brian Cowen. If he thinks that an election debate occurring in March 2016 can be restricted to the technocratic questions proposed by economists in the present, the Taoiseach is deluded.
If he goes through with his undertaking to go to the country in the sacred days of 2016, he and his accomplices will find themselves competing not against Michéal Martin, Ming Flanagan and Gerry Adams, but against P H Pearse, James Connolly and Joseph Mary Plunkett.
The manifesto against which they must compete will comprise neither the earnest supplications of Fianna Fáil nor the politically correct pieties of the reinvented Provisionals, but will instead invoke the austere and stern declarations of the Proclamation: “the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies”.