Éamon Ó Cuiv Wrestling With His Conscience and Winning

So Dev Óg wrestled with his conscience and won.  What a strange and faintly nauseating sight it was, also somewhat pathetic to see his dreams of importance fade.  I guess however Irish history would have been brighter had his grandad had the same degree of intestinal fortitude as he had.

On another level however it’s deeply worrying.  Here is a man who, whatever one might think, at least had some courage, to say “I’m not sure”.  All right he has now decided to toe the party line but we know him to be hypocritical.  Clarity is good.  How many other Irish messengers of the people, Teachtaí Dála, have deep qualms of conscience on an issue but who keep said qualms firmly out of the gaze of the very people they represent?  How many troop through lobbies, baa-ing piteously about the whip system, voting in exact opposition to how they feel?  How many make a cold calculation that the prospect of advancement up the greasy pole of the cursus honorium is more important than their conscience?  How many are going slowly mad from the cognitive dissonance that such causes, or from the drink needed to calm the still inner voice that insists “but you don’t believe that do you?”

A very large number I would imagine.

On the flip side when was the last time a senior politician took a stand of personal principle, any principle, to his or her own detriment? Resigned because they didn’t believe in a policy? A long time ago

Proponents of the whip system suggest that freedom to vote as TDs wish would cause chaos (or at least a different flavour of what we have at present). Maybe but the reductio ad absurdum of that is to have no parliament for fear of dissenting voices and for fear of a government not getting its way on all issues no matter how trivial.  It’s the same attitude that castigated the Greeks for the temerity to be publicly confused about how, where and under whose whose guidance they wish to proceed.

Let’s try something: let’s have some free votes in the dail. Let’s see what TDs really believe. We might be horrified or delighted but we would at least see them as less a set of interchangeable Lego figures endlessly mutable and interchangeable and more a reflection of the protean nature of Irish society.

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(Previously published on Brian Lucey’s blog)

3 thoughts on “Éamon Ó Cuiv Wrestling With His Conscience and Winning

  1. You are asking for the impossible.Remember you are talking about Irish politicians,most of whom would not be tolerated in other european jurisdictions.Not even,dare I say it,where I live in the UK.At least most politicians here they hold their hands up when they have been caught out.Ireland is now compared to third world countries for corruption.Irish politicians in general can be bought and sold just like some commodity.

  2. “On the flip side when was the last time a senior politician took a stand of personal principle, any principle, to his or her own detriment?” Patrick Nulty?

    “How many other Irish messengers of the people, Teachtaí Dála, have deep qualms of conscience on an issue”
    I’d say the only deep qualms they have, is when can I get the hell out of here and get to the Dail bar.

    Reductio ad absurdum indeed.. that they have a conscience at all.

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