2016 election will pitch Kenny against Pearse
‘Instead of idealism, Fine Gael offers constitutional vandalism’
The test to be applied will not be, as Mr Kenny and his compadres appear to believe, whether Ireland has “emerged from the bailout” and “returned to the markets”. Instead, the election will place every candidate in an implicit comparison with the deeds and ideals of the past.
The adversary to be reckoned with will not be Joe Higgins ranting about austerity, but Thomas Davis, sternly intoning the inspiration which sent Pearse out to his certain death: “This country of ours is no sand bank, thrown up by some recent caprice of earth. It is an ancient land, honoured in its archives of civilisation, traceable into antiquity by its piety, its valour, and its sufferings. Every great European race has sent its stream to the river of Irish mind. Long wars, vast organisations, subtle codes, beacon crimes, leading virtues, and self-mighty men were here. If we live influenced by wind and sun and tree, and not by the passions and deeds of the past, we are a thriftless and a hopeless people”.
Till-minders and crawthumpers
Perhaps what we most urgently require to recall about 1916 is not the heroism but rather the fatal loss of vision which it finally amounted to. In getting themselves shot, Pearse and the others denied posterity the quality of intelligence which their continuing presence would have brought to the independence project.
In the aftermath of their absence, Ireland was left to the tender mercies of till-minders and crawthumpers, and the consequences can still be heard on the radio any morning, as politicians and self-describing “experts” seek to define the existential difference between €2.8 billion and €3.1 billion.
The same consequences can be observed in the Fine Gael poster urging a Yes vote in the referendum to abolish the Seanad. Instead of idealism, Fine Gael offers constitutional vandalism and promises “fewer politicians” as an answer to national degradation.
Far from nation-building, the self-styled inheritors of the mantle of Michael Collins propose to dismantle the institutions for which the blood of past generations flowed in rivers. Instead of leadership, they seek to appease the mob by offering the depletion of their own numbers without benefit of firing squad.
And since they put it like that, it might seem churlish of us – when the opportunity next arises – to refuse the offer.