The contemplative benefits of a morning in Galway’s dole office
Times and positions have changed for many of the people who held opinions when Ronnie Reagan walked on Irish soil.
RECENTLY INSIDER spent a morning in Galway’s dole office. It was a fruitless stay in the financial sense, but it proved to be beneficial in a contemplative way.
Insider had noticed from a copy of the Galway Advertiser that this visit to the dole coincided with the launch of an NUI, Galway documentary film, entitled Bridge The Gap, which claims to bring academia and the community closer together and deals with the great issues of the day: “Human rights, globalisation, education, democracy, gender, and racism”.
The event was being held just across the road in the Galway City Museum, and who better to launch it, but Galway’s own plebeian academic, Labour Party president Michael D Higgins.
Ah yes, academia and the community. Who recalls academia’s last Stalinist-like intervention in the community during the Lisbon II referendum back in October 2009? Insider wonders does the film or did Michael D address this?
Remember the gang of NUIG professors, led by college president Prof James Browne, leading the charge to support Lisbon II and the huge adverts they published in all the local press?
Yes, our intellectual betters told us that the Lisbon Treaty had to be passed. Forget democracy, forget globalisation, and certainly don’t even contemplate independence of country or of thought.
The Profs knew better. And their colleagues knew better than to disagree. Apart that is, from one brave woman. She spoke on Galway Bay FM - on the basis of anonymity for fear that it might prejudice her position in NUIG - and criticised the pronouncements of Prof Browne et al.
She spoke about a climate of fear within a college that boasts a human rights centre and where now, a group of academics have produced a documentary to enlighten us - the great unwashed - about human rights.
Not one establishment politician made any comment on the Lisbon capers at NUIG. Former lecturer Michael D - chaperoned by a colleague from the Human Rights Centre - was too busy on Shop Street extolling the virtues of Lisbon. It seemingly mattered nothing to him either that Irish democracy was being subverted by railroading the second referendum through by a policy of fear and lies - remember the lies, “Vote Yes for Jobs”?
So how could he criticise anything going on at NUIG?
No, only one politician, the Independent councillor Catherine Connolly, put her money where her mouth was and placed a large advert in a local paper countering the gang of profs’ spurious arguments.
How times change: memories came flooding back to Insider of the heady days when the US cowboy president Ronald Reagan rode into town in 1984 to have an honorary doctorate bestowed on him from UCG, as NUI, Galway was then called.
In response, a “de-conferring ceremony” was organised by the Committee of Concerned University Staff, at which the 91-year-old veteran socialist republican Peadar O’Donnell officiated, and a number of UCG honorary doctors handed back their parchments in protest at Reagan being honoured.
All the Lefties were involved - Sen Michael D Higgins of Labour plus the then comrades of James Browne (now President Browne).
One wonders how Michael D and former Comrade Browne would respond today if US President Barack Obama - who is involved in three wars at present and in two years has killed more innocent people than Ronald Reagan ever did in his eight years in office – should be awarded an honorary doctorate at NUIG?
Anyway, in January 1985, Peadar O’Donnell returned to UCG and gave a speech of huge relevance for then and now.
“Most of the revolutions that have taken place in history have simply been changes of management,” he said. “On the capitalist system there rests political and legal structures – superstructures. And all that you are seeing in these wrestling matches in the Dáil is monkeys scrambling about on the branches of the superstructure.”
Ironically, it was Michael D who introduced the great Peadar O’Donnell to the packed auditorium that evening. Since then former Dep Higgins has been involved in many “wrestling matches in the Dáil”.
However we now see how worthless his words and the words of his party leader are: Labour is in government and it may as well be with Fianna Fáil. The so-called “democratic revolution” was just a change of management.
On RTÉ’s News Labour’s Galway TDs, Derek Nolan and Colm Keaveney, can be spotted sitting behind government leaders - and like all the other “monkeys”, they neither see, hear, nor speak any evil.
In contrast, look at the Opposition benches in the Dáil, there we have certain TDs, like Peadar O’Donnell, who recognise that capitalism and its imperial part, the EU, have failed this society. Real change will only occur by action both on the streets and in the Dáil. Galway voters were told a government backbench TD was better than an Independent such as Catherine Connolly – we now know otherwise.
To add insult to injury, the eloquent Michael D wants to be up with the other monkeys in Phoenix Park.
We should remember that he president does not get paid peanuts: €350,000 a year, and Mary Robinson – our ex-president – has a pension of €175,000 a year. At the same time our schools are being greatly restricted as to the number of resource teachers they can have. We need to get our priorities right!
Insider can say with confidence that if Michael D does take the Presidency, then his new job will be the only one created by the Lisbon Treaty. If he had not cravenly supported the party line during the undemocratic re-run of the Lisbon referendum, Labour’s bigwigs would never have countenanced him as Labour’s presidential candidate.
Leaving the dole office that day, Insider thought of one young unemployed man she knows, who had vehemently said: “I’m staying, F**k them, they won’t force me to emigrate”.
It made this Insider believe that Peadar O’Donnell was spot on by giving his autobiography the title There Will Be Another Day.