Wilde in Merrion Square Dublin
I was there less than two weeks ago; I saw the posters, understood what it was about and knew what the opinion polls were saying and heard the anecdotal opinions of the people I met. Yet on Saturday afternoon, as the result of the Irish Equal Marriage Referendum became clear, something utterly astonishing has taken place in Ireland. It is no exaggeration to say that the entire country has experienced a societal seismic shift overnight.
With a national turn-out of 60 per cent and with 62 per cent voting “Yes”, talk of a landslide is probably a bit of the blarney but the sands have shifted irrevocably and, to my mind at least, a Catholic State has become an Irish Nation. The figures demonstrate that a sizable majority of the population regardless of age, faith, ethnicity or gender who would never in a month of Sundays describe themselves as LGBT have voted for equality, compassion, respect and (wait for it) love as basic human rights extended to their fellow citizens. (more…)
The tart with the cart
Any gesture of reconciliation, regardless of how small has to be considered as a very good thing if truth and peace are to be re-established. With the UK mainland media wetting its collective pants over a handshake and obsessing over a dead uncle, the really big story in Ireland has been almost completely overlooked.
Ten days ago, riding on the fast and frequent airport shuttle into Dublin city centre, every lamp post and tree and almost every other building was festooned with posters urging the electorate to vote yes. “Votail Ta” said the Fianna Fail posters; “Sinn Fein says vote Yes for equality”; “Fine Gael supports freedom” and “Labour vote Yes” suggested that all the major political parties were displaying unusual unity. I later read in the Irish Times that the Taoiseach Enda Kenny, a practicing Catholic and former critic of equal marriage had changed his mind and was asking the populous to vote yes. (more…)
For many blindingly obvious reasons, it was an absolute joy to spend last week away from the United Kingdom. As the aching disappointment at the outcome of the general election gave way to abject terror at what is likely to happen to this country now that Cameron has an actual mandate, boarding an aircraft and flying away has never been so pleasurable.
Mercifully missing out on endless post mortems, excuses and recriminations; the end of the road for the Liberal Democrats, the Labour Party tearing itself apart again and the Farage creature making a complete fool of himself by resigning and then not resigning, the overseas media hardly reported the tawdry UK bun fight. The only evidence I saw was in a crowded bar as the barista flicked through the channels looking for the Real Madrid Juventus game. He paused on a news report that showed smug Tory ministers banging the table as Cameron entered to chair the first meeting of his new cabinet. My heart sank and my flesh crawled. Juventus held on for a draw and I held on to the thought of not coming back. (more…)
There are, according to recent estimates, about 200,000 paid up members of the British Labour Party which means that there about 200,000 different definitions of socialism and about 200,000 alternative manifestos. Labour`s failure to oust a government of crooks, liars and shysters did not come about due to a last minute surge of support for more misery and pain but by an addiction to self-harm and a perpetual identity crisis.
It is impossible not to feel at the least a modicum of sympathy for Ed Miliband. He is undoubtedly an honourable and principled man and has endured distasteful personal attacks from a shameless Conservative Party and a shameful right-wing press. By challenging multi-national corporations and the Murdoch Empire he targeted himself as a danger to wealthy vested interests that did all in their power to neutralise him. He joins John Smith, Neil Kinnock, Denis Healey and Nye Bevan in the growing ranks of great Labour Prime Ministers that never were. (more…)
The snag with silver linings is that they are invariably accompanied by enormous, dark and threatening clouds. Quite how the UK electorate decided on another five years of Cameron, free at last of those pesky Liberal Democrats, is as baffling as it is disturbing.
It is as if the populous are channelling their collective unconscious duty after centuries of serfdom into obedience of aristocratic masters. Perhaps we have become a nation of masochists or we are possibly suffering a mass outbreak of Stockholm syndrome. It`s not good, but that`s how democracy works and the result has to be accepted because the result is the will of the people. Daubing graffiti on war memorials and chucking traffic cones at policemen is as sensible as invading the pitch after the skilled away team scores a goal against the useless home team. It`s not that Labour were useless, it`s that Lynton Crosby and that American bloke were more clever and more ruthless. (more…)