Well, the heading this week says it all – politics really is a cruel business.
Now I have no brief to talk up or praise Enda Kenny/ Micheál Martin/ Mary-Lou McDonald or whoever. As readers will know, when there are good things to say I have my say and when there are not so good things I have my say also. If you like, I have the best of all worlds!
I think the palaver in Fine Gael at the moment is just so senseless. I can’t believe that a grown-up party, such as they are, would indulge in such wild carry-ons and daft calls as they have been engaged in for the past seven days.
Yes of course politics is full of pitfalls. From time to time we all have fallen into those pitfalls, but you get yourself up and you get moving again. To my mind, Ireland at this time does not need a change of government, a change of leader, or a general election. What it needs is a steady hand on the steering wheel of government and a determination on all sides that the new politics will work.
Let’s put that vote last week on the abortion bill out of sight and out of mind until the strategy which Fine Gael had in their manifesto unfolds – to set up a convention to review the matter, come back with their findings, and then the Dáil committee and the Dáil itself would debate those findings and come out with a decision as to whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment.
However this must follow a full debate on all of the aspects of what repealing the Eighth Amendment would mean. For all the noise and tumult which we have had about this question, we have only strongly heard one point of view. I think every citizen in the land is entitled to hear all the points of view. I would welcome a debate like that but I am not so sure that we are going to get it.
In the meantime, it strikes me that certain sections of the media are fed up with the ‘new politics’. These sections want excitement and glamour and edge-of-your-seat stuff to go on all the time whereas, as we all know, real life is not like that.
Real life, in the main, is plod, plod, plod and get on with it no matter what your job is. Do you know I never thought I would be writing these words and that I would be saying to Enda Kenny, “Hold on! Hang on in there Enda! You have still a lot of work to do!” But this is what I am saying. Particularly now, in the post-Brexit situation where his experience and knowledge and friendship with Angela Merkel in Germany will be of inestimable benefit to us in the weeks and months ahead.
Now I know nobody will pay heed to what I am saying, but I am giving my advice anyway and we will see how the next few days unfold.
Now I must tell you all of two West of Ireland adventures I am having over next weekend.
This Friday, July 15, Constance Cassidy and her husband, Edward Walsh (both barristers ) have invited to dinner to Lisadell every woman who was a Minister in an Irish Cabinet since Constance Markievicz was the first ever Irish Minister. I am so looking forward to the event and to meeting colleagues I knew from years ago, and perhaps some I have never met. I understand there is to be a really good turnout to that wonderful historic house.
Last summer we visited Lisadell with two friends, and were so struck by this fine old building on the edge of the Atlantic - the house itself, the gardens, the farm, the work that Constance and Edward are putting into it, and the buoyancy and joyful incursion of their eight young children who helped them at various stages to get the enterprise up and running.
My second adventure across the Shannon, so to speak, will be to Galway on Saturday, July 16; I have been invited as a guest to the Galway Arts Festival. I have always admired the work of this many-faceted festival.
The event to which I will be contributing is a political dialogue in UCG. The title of the lecture is ‘It’s My Party…’ taking its title from the song ‘It’s my Party and I’ll Cry if I Want to’. The speakers will be Alex White, previous Labour Minister for Communications; Mark Mortell, a long-time Fine Gael adviser; and myself. I am looking forward so much to the event, to good political dialogue and a vivid question and answer session afterwards. There is nothing I like better than a good punchy political debate and I hope and I am sure that is what we will have on Saturday.
To visit UCG is always a delight with its lovely old buildings - and plenty of modern ones too. For this event we will be in the Aula Maxima in the old quadrangle, which is part of the historic storeyed building of UCG.
I hope I will be able to talk to you all next week about these western excursions. In summertime there is nothing better one can do than cross the River Shannon and push westwards.
Talk to you all soon. In the meantime, go safely.
Slán go fóill