Sunday, 4 July 2010

Ireland: Up The Creek Without A Paddle...

They've gone, but are we safer?...

IT's a sign of the times really. On this weekend in previous years we would have, by now, worked ourselves into a frenzy of outrage about the fact that, as the country faces its greatest challenges yet, our leaders are about to embark on the kind of summer holidays unknown outside the teaching or TV-presenting fraternity. Indeed, many of our leaders are teachers and one can only assume they took to politics because they knew it was one of the few other professions where grown adults get two or three months off simply because it is summer.

This year the outrage is muted. This year we are all half relieved that they are all heading off for a good stretch. "There, there", we think, "let them have a little holiday and see if they feel better after that." We even secretly hope that they might be different when they come back, that they might come into contact with the real world over the summer months, and that such a shock might galvanise them into doing something in the autumn. But, of course, in reality we know that won't happen.

In previous years we used to worry that the country was to be left drifting along rudderless for two or three months. Now we are more inclined to think that on the law of averages, like the stopped clock, the rudderless boat might at least go in the right direction now and then -- which would possibly be an improvement on term time, when our leaders seem to focus on steering us steadily up the creek. And let's face it, when you've been up that creek without a paddle as long as we have, the loss of a rudder is no big deal.

When you look at what they get up to when they are actually "sitting", as it is aptly known, you wouldn't be too alarmed at the idea of them not sitting. The last few weeks have been mainly taken up with breeding bitches, thwarting stag hunts, and other country pursuits. And just when it looked as if people had finally had enough of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael showed they couldn't even get rid of Enda Kenny, despite the whole country apparently being indifferent to Kenny's leadership. With the young bucks of FG having been felled, there was another couple of weeks taken up with John Gormley's preening and ego tripping. God knows what they would have been doing if they were sitting for the summer. Coming up with a regulatory framework for hopscotch? The holiday will do them good. They can meet real people for a change. "What's that you're all talking about?" John Gormley might say to the crowd in the pub, "the economy? Unemployment? Well, I never."

So let them off. And for those of us who believe that politicians should have to bear in mind that cornerstone of medical ethics: first, do no harm -- well, at least for the next few months we can be confident that they won't.

And anyway, no doubt the Germans will be keeping an eye on us.

Report by Brendan O'Connor - Sunday Independent

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