Posted by: whatkindofweekhasitbeen | February 5, 2012

5th February, 2012

This week has been oddly reminiscent of Divorce Referendum.

Not the heated national plebiscite asking whether Ireland should go modern or not, but the hapless horse Father Ted puts a bet on. When the Fine Gael/Labour government came out of the traps around a year ago a great deal of people were egging them on, but just when you thought we were on to a new way of governance, they turn round and go the other way.  You flipping, flipping, flippers!

Between Enda Kenny’s recent diagnosis volte face of Ireland’s woes at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, an event that sounds like the setting of the worst Bond film ever, and Sean Sherlock’s continued blaséness about the damage of an Irish SOPA law, great swathes of the Irish public who believed in them (or simply decided not to hate them for a while) have got a smack in the face from a pretty high hand.

No example of government patriciousness could ever be better though than pronouncements made from Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport and the country’s most high-ranking robot. Leo claimed referenda aren’t very democratic and while he has a point, the fact that Leo made it in vintage Leo fashion only got rankles up the country over. Admittedly this isn’t an easy decision, as referenda in Ireland are indeed often strange, insane and tangential to most salient points. In reality, Rock, Paper, Scissors would almost be a better way to make these decisions, as at least they have an additional option. But, at the same time taking on a new EU treaty of such import without so much of a head-round-the-door consult with an aggrieved and angry public isn’t much cop either. There are ways and means of doing things in government, and this current one is being all too profligate with them. In other words, it’s the knackers’ yard for them, pal.

Over in Britain David Cameron is maintaining a zen-like reaction to the new EU fiscal compact treaty, partially because he’s been left on the platform on this one (he prefers “vetoed”, God love him), and partially because he, like everyone else on the European stage, probably hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. He’s much more concerned with domestic financial scamps, like Stephen Hester who was denied his £1million quid bonus (although in fairness to him he belongs to the clean up crew), and Fred Goodwin, whose marketplace conduct was so ungentlemanly they knocked the “Sir” off his name. But while he doesn’t get to go round riding horses and brandishing large metal poles anymore, his dragon-sized allowance remains resolutely undocked, and Hester still gets his actual wages. In spite of these very tame developments, there have been plenty of people worrying about the dangers of “anti-business hysteria”, which is like thinking drinking Coca Cola will lead to you snorting white powder off a toilet seat.

If it’s hysteria you want though, look no further than the Irish Independent. The Indo has been a crass, twiddly moustached 1920’s villain of Irish media for some time now, and tied to the railtracks this time was “Magda”, a Polish woman living in Donegal on social welfare. She was the focus of a report in one of the bigger Polish papers Gazeta Wyborcza, which was later picked up by the Indo. Except when they picked it up, they shook it until it was structurally unsound, and misrepresented it to within an inch of its life: the original article profiled a woman on the brew until she could start her new business. The Indo article profiled a woman who lives like she’s in a David Guetta video at the Irish taxpayers’ expense.

To her credit the journalist who amended it for the Independent, Norma Costello, has made a mortified though not very effective attempt to roll back the damage, (as did Senator Jimmy Harte, whose comments made him look an awful spoon) but her appearance only rackets up the questions. For instance, why did she get the guy from the “My hovercraft is full of eels” Monty Python sketch to translate it? In not verifying it properly were both Norma and the Indo negligent or just plain vindictive? And why is a feature that extrapolates the welfare use of one person onto a whole nationality newsworthy anyway, especially when all it does is give stream of consciousness hecklers an excuse to sound off?

The “Magda” case may be the latest section in the “Ireland be Crazy” anthology, but another we’ll all no doubt become familiar with soon is the fracking debate. An Australian company want to exploit a gas field on the Leitrim/Fermanagh border and use that smelly gold to give bounteous employment/take bounteous riches. However the practice of fracking is frowned upon by environmentalists who consider it damaging. Given how I thought fracking meant “to swear on 30 Rock” I can’t comment, but in Ireland, “We have grave environmental concerns for the following reasons” is unlikely to ever beat “JOBS! JOBS JOBS JOBBETY JOBS!”

But hey, the week’s news hasn’t all been confusing and angry. Some of it has been confusing and funny. For example, the Kilkenny man who won a George Clooney lookalike competition. An extraordinary feat, given how there is no dimension in which he could possibly look anything like George. In fact, I’m not even sure which one of the people in the photo is supposed to be the winner. Not so much ER as EH?!



  1. Wow, after the first two paragraphs I was hooked! Keep it up man, I’m off to read the archives! 😀

    Great stuff!

    • Ah thanks a million Cathal, cheers for reading! 🙂 Hope all’s well with yourself!

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