So we're happy to be damned with faint praise?


HEART BEAT:‘Favourable’ analysis by ‘Wall Street Journal’ is simplistic, writes MAURICE NELIGAN

THE EXTREME left-wing Wall Street Journaltells us that we’re head lads, able to suffer in dignified silence, while our caring competent Government works selflessly on our behalf to extract us from the financial morass in which we find ourselves. Brian Lenihan tells us that the article is the latest in “a series of favourable pieces” about our response to disaster. As Mandy Rice Davies put it, “He would say that, wouldn’t he?” It is a feeble attempt by the Minister to make a virtue of necessity.

The writer is correct in saying that we have reacted in a disciplined manner to repeated affronts to our society, visited upon us by those entrusted to govern. These people, having created the problem, now have the gall to tell us that they are the answer and that we should be grateful for their talents.

For the information of this great journal, the Irish people are far from accepting your simplistic analysis. We are suffering from an overload of outrage of such magnitude that it is hard to know where to start. Any part of this cascade of calamity would cause governments to fall in countries truly committed to democratic rule. Not here, however. Our chiefs sound like a collective Mr Micawber in Dickens’s David Copperfieldas they cling to office, hoping “that something will turn up”. As you know, Micawber ended up in debtor’s prison, a fate that could befall us all under present guidance.

We’re not happy and resigned. Staying with Dickens, Mr Tappertit in Barnaby Rudgesaid, “Something will come of this. I hope it mayn’t be human gore.” So do we all. Meantime, oh scribe of Wall Street, why don’t you sweep all the backyards down your way, and let us clean the Augean stables of our own asses?

Giving credit where it is due, some attempts are being made to address some of our really pressing problems.

Eamon Ryan proposes to eviscerate rugby football in Ireland. God only knows why, in the midst of recession, he should propose this. Perhaps it is the ability of some sections of our society to succeed that grates with the losers?

Even among his Government colleagues there appears little enthusiasm for this nonsense. A lot of us are proud of what these athletes have achieved and cannot understand the Minister’s stance. It cannot be described as doctrinaire because there is no discernable doctrine. Maybe it’s just that players and spectators enjoy themselves. We can’t have that.

This leads me somewhere I had vowed not to go. It is another Green initiative and was brought to mind by an article in this paper referring to the auction of a rare Irish painting by Christie’s of London. The subject was John, 5th Earl Spencer (Lady Di and all that) riding out with the Ward Union Hunt in 1877. The hunt was established in 1854 and has flourished to this day. Its existence is now threatened by the Wildlife (Amendment) Bill, due shortly before the Dáil. This would outlaw stag hunting and is seen logically by many as “the foot in the door” legislation that would in time ban fox hunting, coursing, shooting and maybe even rugby and Gaelic football.

I have never hunted stags nor foxes. I have never been to a coursing meet. It is years since I shot or fished. I cannot for the life of me understand how such legislation is prioritised in a country with such real problems. We have young people dying in the “care” of the HSE. We have patients suffering on hospital trolleys. We have totally inadequate mental health services. We export cattle on the hoof, we slaughter animals for food; some in conformity with Halal principles by having their throats cut. We do this for the benefits of our society as a tolerant whole. Why should we then single out one form of hunting which has been in Ireland since the days of the Fianna? Hunting is a cornerstone of our equine industry and gives needed employment in our rural areas. It is part of country life for many people. It might even be healthy. John Dryden wrote of a long-lived uncle:

“Better to hunt in fields for health unbought

Than fee the doctor for a nauseous draught”

We are told that part purpose of this intolerant proposed law is to protect people from the running stags. How about vital legislation to protect the people from politicians running amok?