“Th’ whole worl’s in a terrible state o’ chassis”

The above famous line, from Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, comes to my mind when I look at the world today, which is certainly in a state of chassis. The refugee/migrant situation is dominating the media and so rightly it should. Huge numbers of refugees from war-torn Syria and Eritrea are pouring into Europe.

Some of the images have been graphic and highly disturbing particularly those from Hungary, which seems to have adopted a very hard-line stance.

Ireland at least has behaved, I feel, in a proper fashion with deciding on the amount of refugees they will take and setting about making the arrangements for same.

Remember, many of us reading these lines will have had ancestors who years and years ago were refugees to other lands when their own country failed them. It is good to leaven our thoughts on the modern refugees with our remembrances of times past.

So what about the political chassis? It seems in all political parties that matters are emerging which show that there are jitters galore in the run-up to the General Election.

In my own party of Fianna Fáil, we have had the Westmeath Convention over and done with. The town of Athlone will not have a Fianna Fáil candidate for the first time in decades. I do not want to go on and on about it but it seems such a shame, and the huge outpouring of communications which we have received is massive.

Also in Fianna Fáil there are jitters in other constituencies where a Fianna Fáil male candidate county councillor has been told to stand aside for a female county councillor. It seems there will be no vote in this constituency. They will be told, ‘This is your candidate’.

Whatever happened to the brave new crusade which Micheál Martin set out on, which was ‘One Person, One Vote’, where the local party members would have a real say in who was selected in various constituencies. A far cry from that to the turmoil which is now ensuing.

Readers will remember that some months ago when I started this column, I talked about gender quotas and the basic unfairness of it, unfair both to men and women.

We are now seeing the ugly face of gender quotas and no excuses or talking up the woman issue will make it any better. It is unfair, discriminatory,  and morally wrong.

I understand there are instances of similar actions in Fine Gael as well. Somehow, however, the Fine Gael Party seem to conduct their rows in private. They seem more refined about it. Whereas disputes in Fianna Fáil are out in the open, full-blooded, and explosive. That has always been the way.

In Sligo I note a deepening Fine Gael row in the run-up in to the General Election. There are two Fine Gael TDs in Sligo in what was then the Sligo/Leitrim constituency – John Perry and Tony McLoughlin.

Fine Gael have declared they are running one TD in Sligo and one TD in Leitrim. The row now centres over what delegates are eligible to vote and ineligible to vote and it has all the signs of developing into a major row.

Over in Laois the Labour Senator, John Whelan, has openly attacked his Labour ministerial colleague, Minister for Energy Alex White, over the windfarm issue again in a full-blooded way.

So is all this just the usual nerves and jitters in the run-up to an Election?

There are clearly nerves and jitters too in the mind of Enda Kenny who will be the sole decider on when the Election will be. Readers will know that from the beginning I have said it will be in March because the people would need to feel the money accruing from the Budget in their pockets before the Election is called.

However, many serious articles are beginning to emerge – articles which I feel have the imprimatur of the Fine Gael Party hierarchy. These articles, one by Stephen Collins recently in The Irish Times and one by Eoghan Harris recently in the Sunday Independent both pointed to the fact that Enda Kenny must make a decision and make it soon and perhaps he should look at holding an Election in November.

So what is Enda Kenny to do? Does he cut and run and hope that the enticement of money to come, which will be outlined in the Budget, suffice? Or does he hold tight and hope that the jingle of the money in the pockets will produce a better result?

Meanwhile, the ministers are running around tripping one another up with promises – most of which would not be able to be realised for this year’s Budget.

As a voter, I am extremely sceptical of all of these promises. Now I know that Fianna Fáil in times past engaged in all of that kind of vote-buying as well. However, I had thought we had turned corners and that things were going to be different, that matters would be very transparent. After all, as Enda Kenny said, ‘Paddy likes to know the story’.

All of the above against a background of the return of the Dáil, the resumption of the public slanging matches between the parties, the promises, the manifestos, the skulduggery in the parties behind the scenes – and all of it adds up to decidedly uncertain times ahead of us.

Even writing this has left me in a very fevered state. The world, our world here in Ireland, is certainly in a state of chassis!! See you next week,Slán go Fóill

MARY O’ROURKE

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