An Irishman's Diary


Yesterday was N-Day, when the Government announced the latest step in the querulous danse macabre in which we do nothing to defend ourselves, undertake to assist no one in their defence, but somehow expect to be defended by others. The thinking part of Dáil Éireann's brain on this issue was long since eaten by weevils of sanctimony, leaving it incapable of perceiving the reality of the world we live in, writes Kevin Myers.

In other words, we want full sexual intercourse, with the promise that we'll still be virgins afterwards.

Even John Bruton, who is sounder on the neutrality issue than most, could respond to the utterly risible Labour party proposal to protect Irish neutrality in the Constitution - not more meaningless constitutional piety, dear God in heaven - by admonishing: "That wording sounds great. But on closer warning, I believe it would actually allow Ireland to join NATO."

Military alliance

Lawksamussy, John, and shiver me timbers; you're scaring me stupid. What is this NATO thing, John? An international pederasty ring? A drug smuggling cartel of dope-fiends? An association of cannibals who have a taste for the flesh of ageing nuns? Or an organisation of free countries which won the third world war, the cold one, against the greatest totalitarian monolith the world has ever seen? My. What a truly dreadful fate, to find ourselves in a military alliance with the people who have been defending our waters and our air-space for the past half-century. Why, this could even entail some military obligation upon us. Worse still, it might oblige us to honour our duty to defend ourselves and our neighbours, rather than witter on witlessly about the inviolability of our neutrality.

The shameful truth is that we can do absolutely nothing to defend ourselves. Nothing. If a sea-mine were to drift into our waters we would have to get the British or the Americans (or the Canadians, Norwegians, Danes, Swedes, Portuguese, Italians or Germans - my, and what a sinister-looking bunch they all are) to sweep it for us.

Or if there were to be a terrorist threat by aircraft on a meeting of European ministers in Ireland, the Defence Forces would not be able to shoot it down, simply because we have no air-defence system with the command structure able to make the necessary decision. A man sitting with a missile on a roof is not a system. He's a man sitting on a roof, that's all.

Tough talking

The Taoiseach had every right to call the anti-Nice campaigners whingers; it's time for a bit of tough talking, especially to the various shades of green who have led the neutrality-is-central-to-our-identity debate: the Kremlin-Greens, those former Official IRA types now in the Labour Party who were once allies of the Soviet Union; the Haemo-Greens, the Shinners who so recently were blood-chums of Libya, FARC and anyone else who would feast with them at their banquet of gore; and finally, the Eco-Greens, who are in defensive alliance with Gandalf and other such worldly figures of military substance.

But the Taoiseach really shouldn't be surprised that political debate about neutrality is so high in sanctimony and low in reality. The Government showed what it actually thought of the Defence Forces when it chose to order for the Air Corps a helicopter no one else in the world wants and for which there is no logistical back-up in all of Europe, no screwdrivers even, merely to satisfy the political requirements of north Co Dublin.

That was bad enough. Worse was to follow. Imagine waking up, screaming, from a terrible dream in which you are married to Michael Jackson; you shake your loved one in relief that the nightmare is over, only to find a plastic surgeon's bleached manikin leering on the bed beside you. Well, that's how the Defence Forces felt when the Taoiseach reappointed Michael Smith as their Minister after the election.

The terrifying aspect of the Taoiseach's position on neutrality is that, thanks to the robust common sense of Brian Cowen, he has come out against enshrining "neutrality" in the Constitution. The Labour Party, not having a Brian Cowen, wants to insert it in the Constitution - in the brilliantly successful manner in which the ban on abortion was inserted in the Constitution 20 years ago, no doubt?

Binding authority

Furthermore, Brendan Howlin thinks that the erudite philosophers of his party can give "an absolute definition to the concept of neutrality" - with the same binding authority, I suppose, that Archbishop Ussher once was able once to "give an absolute definition" to the date for Creation, in 4004, BC.

Our discussions about neutrality are as realistic as were those Ussherite calculations measuring the life-spans of the Chaldeans, the Moabites and the Amorites, certain that in the scriptures lay the origins of the universe. For all his learning, the prelate uttered no more than pious babble, and pious babble is what we will inevitably get today, N-Day.

A question for ambassadors to Ireland: what do you make of those inanities which erupt in Dáil Éireann whenever the N-word is uttered, as speakers begin to strut like Mussolini, intoning grave, sanctimonious gibberish? And you poor accredited bastards, you can't even begin to write a report describing what you've heard - for, fluent as your English is, you don't understand a single word of the drivel that's being preached. And me neither. Welcome to the club.