For the first time in Insider’s memory, most of his non-political friends are uncertain of who they will vote for in the next General Election. Of course, some are certain who they will not vote for, but a clear majority are undecided and Insider has never seen such disillusionment.
Insider is more convinced than ever that this reflects a lack of respect for politicians and is slowly coming to the belief that the politicians have only themselves to blame for this state of affairs.
Take An Taoiseach Enda Kenny for example, he told the Fine Gael parliamentary party in February that he would deal effectively and conclusively with his departure from the party leadership after his return from his St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington. He has done no such thing.
The previous week, the Taoiseach said he had a meeting some time earlier with Minister Katherine Zappone, where she told him she was to meet Sgt Maurice McCabe, and the Taoiseach outlined the advice he had given to her. The Taoiseach had to apologise for this later that same week as the meeting, in fact, had never taken place. Even Alan Shatter, the Taoiseach’s former Justice Minister, last month described how he believed Mr Kenny had a "casual relationship" with the truth.
Insider’s Fine Gael friends are now watching the Taoiseach’s TV appearances through clenched hands, wondering what nonsense he is going to come out with next. Enda Kenny could, and should, have resigned as Fine Gael leader after the party’s disastrous election in February 2016. His legacy would have been a proud one, having rescued the State from the economic abyss over the previous five years. However, like many in his position, he chose to stay on and the timing for his departure will soon become a decision for someone else. Insider believes he will be in control until the end of this month, and if he has not indicated a departure date by then, events will quickly spiral out of control.
One of the pretenders to the throne, Minister Coveney, says he trusts the Taoiseach’s judgement, and he will know the time to depart. Insider suspects Minister Coveney is doing his best not to alienate the Kenny rump in advance of any leadership contest. Even Minister Varadkar does not want to be seen to be forcing Mr Kenny out of office. The Taoiseach needs time and space, says Minister Coveney; Insider believes he should be given the same time and space he gave former Minister Shatter and former Commissioner Callinan.
As for Galway West, two good and true Fine Gael TDs will be reduced to one in the next election, and they will have Enda to thank for it. A simple question for you readers: Does it matter if The Taoiseach tells the truth or not?
With the passing of Martin McGuinness, we have seen an attempt by Sinn Féin to rewrite the recent history of this island which would make Donald Trump blush. Let us look at the facts, and expose the ‘no option for young nationalists but to engage in the IRA terrorist campaign’ nonsense for what it is.
Sinn Féin should wait another 50 years at least before they attempt to rewrite what has happened on this island since the late 1960s; this is not like 100 years ago, we were around during the last 40 years, and we remember and know what really happened. Let's look at a few of the facts relating to elections north and south in the 1980s and 1990s. The Sinn Fein vote in the Republic in elections through the 1980s and 1990s was of the order of one to two per cent, as the vast majority of people rejected the repugnant IRA terrorist campaign with which Sinn Fein were closely associated.
Indeed it would be unfair to suggest that even this one per cent were supporters of the terror campaign. Whether from the so called Republican side, or the so called Loyalist side, the terror campaigns were utterly rejected by the vast majority of people from all communities
Sinn Féin’s electoral support base really only increased once the terror campaign finished, (and the economic collapse also helped, which left many looking for alternatives to the established political parties ). Also, the next time we hear a Sinn Féin spokesperson speak about the lack of alternative choices for nationalists in the north, we should remember this: the vast majority of the nationalist community in Northern Ireland supported the SDLP throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s compared to the support levels for Sinn Féin.
'Insider can see no explanation for the information released last week, other than a wholesale fraud being committed on the Irish people by a large number of gardaí'
Indeed the man who led the SDLP for most of this period, and was an implacable opponent of IRA violence, John Hume, was voted the greatest Irishman in history in an RTE poll in 2010. I know that the passage of time is the terrorist’s greatest friend, as it allows him to pretend that vile actions were heroic, and heroic actions were somehow questionable. We owe it to the real victims of the past, and the impressionable of the future, to expose these lies. When one looks at the conduct of the DUP and Sinn Féin in recent times, one almost feels that they deserve each other. But I fear we may all ultimately pay a price for this.
Maybe the present impasse was unavoidable, as the peace process must have taught both parties that the more intransigent was your behaviour, the more concessions you would win from weak governments, as Ahern and Blair abandoned the political middle ground. Now they are left facing only each other, a clear way forward is difficult to see.
Of course, an end to the cycle of violence and terror was to be welcomed, but without a functioning Stormont assembly, 19 years after the Good Friday Agreement, Insider is not sure our peace process is an example to the world, which its earlier cheerleaders were claiming. Who now even remembers that the unionist party which benefitted most from the Good Friday Agreement, the DUP, did not even sign up to it?
Insider is a long time around, and thought he was beyond being shocked by any revelations to do with any public or private body. However, the information which has come into the public domain in recent weeks in relation to the Gardai and breath test, and wrongful conviction, numbers has left Insider flabbergasted. On reading the latest reports, Insider was reminded of Lord Denning's infamous "appalling vista" comment in relation to the Birmingham Six.
Thankfully, there has been no mention of confessions being extracted from people, but Insider can see no explanation for the information released last week, other than a wholesale fraud being committed on the Irish people by a large number of gardaí. Insider hopes another explanation emerges, as the behaviour of the gardaí Insider comes into contact with on a weekly basis bears no relation to these reports. The betrayal of those honest gardaí would be as much as Insider could bear.
Insider looks back fondly to a time when politicians said what they meant, and meant what they said, a time when political leaders were respected and even admired. Who stands by the Republic now? The real Republic of Ireland, not the one in a fanatics' heart, but the one where we live, breathe, love, hope, fear, raise our children, help our communities, care for our parents, and will see out our own days. Is there a Cosgrave, a Fitzgerald, a Lemass, a Bruton out there? If so, your country needs you.