A history of modern Ireland in 60 ironies

Supreme irony in New Land League declarations at palatial home of solicitor

John Martin (centre), of the New Land League speaks to the media outside  Gorse Hill, off Vico Road, in Killiney, Co Dublin, the home of Brian O’Donnell. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

John Martin (centre), of the New Land League speaks to the media outside Gorse Hill, off Vico Road, in Killiney, Co Dublin, the home of Brian O’Donnell. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

 

The supreme irony of the presence and the declarations of the New Land League [“we help big and small . . . the house is very much a bog standard house”] at the palatial home of solicitor Brian O’Donnell on Vico Road in Killiney this week prompted the following compilation of a history of modern Ireland in 60 ironies.

1 “No man has the right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation.” (Charles Stewart Parnell, in1885, the year before the men of the House of Commons defeated the first Home Rule Bill).

2 “Parnell, by his public misconduct, has utterly disqualified himself.” (The Catholic bishops on the Parnell divorce scandal, 1891).

3 Fair rent, free sale, fixity of tenure.

4 Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.

5 “Those of us who thought Home Rule as something utterly inadequate were a very small minority, without influence, impotent.” (Desmond FitzGerald on those who planned the 1916 Rising).

6 Our gallant allies in Europe.

7 “Ireland, the last unliberated white community on the face of the globe.” (Erskine Childers in 1919).

8 “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies.” (Democratic Programme of the First Dáil, 1919).

9 “All right to private property must be subordinated to the public right and welfare.” (Democratic Programme).

10 “It shall be the first duty of the government of the Republic to make provision for the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the children, to secure that no child shall suffer hunger or cold from lack of food, clothing or shelter.” (Democratic Programme).

11 “The number of people who live a parasitic existence is increasing.” (James Burke, minister for local government, 1924).

12 “The Evil one is ever setting his snares for unwary feet . . . his traps for the innocent are chiefly the dance hall, the bad book, the motion picture.” (Catholic bishops’ pastoral, 1927).

13 “Well Done Mayo!” (Front page of the Catholic Bulletin in 1931 after Mayo County Council refused to sanction the appointment of a Protestant librarian).

14 “The government shall be responsible to Dáil Éireann.” (article 28 of the Irish Constitution, 1937)

15 “All citizens shall, as human persons, be held equal before the law.” (article 40 of the Irish Constitution)

16 “There is no one in this country who is not getting proper food.” (taoiseach Éamon de Valera in 1943).

17 “The Ireland which we dreamed of would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as the basis of right living, of a people who were satisfied with frugal comfort and devoted their leisure to things of the spirit.” (Éamon de Valera, 1943).

18 “I cannot conceive any sadism emanating from men who were trained to have devotion to a very high purpose.” (minister for education Seán Moylan, speaking in 1954 about the Christian Brothers.)

19 Fine Gael’s Just Society.

20 “Class distinction is almost entirely absent in this country.” (Judge Barra O’Briain at Limerick Circuit Court, 1963).

21 Fianna Fáil: the Republican Party.

22 “The Seventies will be socialist.” (Brendan Corish, 1967).

23 “Charlie always had the uncomplicated belief that the greater good was served by him getting what he wanted.” (Terry Keane on Charles Haughey)

24 Practising lapsed Catholics.

25 The Right to Life.

26 “We are tactically, strategically, physically and morally opposed to a hunger strike.” (Gerry Adams to Bobby Sands at the end of 1980).

27 “Is it correct to rake up the past now?” (Department of Education file in 1982 on a paedophile teacher who had been abusing boys since 1940).

28 Balanced diet.

29 A few drinks.

30 “Everything in moderation.”

31 General election manifestoes.

32 Serving the needs of the community.

33 In the interests of fairness for all.

34 Faith of Our Fathers.

35 Tenant Rights.

36 Pluralist education.

37 Free Education.

38 Protecting Irish Purity.

39 The League of Decency.

40 Never! Never! Never!

41 Never Again.

42 The most oppressed people ever.

43 “It’s entirely a matter for my old friend of 30 years.” (Charles Haughey speaking about Brian Lenihan’s possible resignation before he sacked him in 1990).

44 Openness, transparency and accountability.

45 Legitimate expenses.

46 In the national interest.

47 The Irish economic miracle.

48 Decentralisation.

49 “I’m one of the last socialists left in Irish politics.” (Bertie Ahern as taoiseach in 2004.)

50 “We will not get into auction politics” (Bertie Ahern during the general election campaign of 2007).

51 “So far, we’ve had the cheapest bailout in the world.” (minister for finance Brian Lenihan in 2009).

52 “It’s Frankfurt’s way or Labour’s way.” (Eamon Gilmore, 2011)

53 A democratic revolution.

54 Rural broadband.

55 Water conservation.

56 As far as is practicable.

57 The fighting Irish.

58 The foreseeable future.

59 “Let me be absolutely clear about this.”

60 “Paddy likes to know what the story is.” (Enda Kenny after the general election in 2011).

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