The Irish Parliament

Ireland’s dirty little history

In 1922 and five years after the Easter rising, a bloody affair in Dublin, the British empire’s second most important city, the Irish and British signed a treaty that would end the empire’s involvement in the south of Ireland while holding on to a divided and troubled six county enclave in the north east of the country. How we now might envy a clean cut split like what happened in Hong Kong when the Chinese military lined up on the docks on the 1 July 1987, lowered the union jack and simultaneously raised the Chinese flag and in an orderly fashion waved goodbye to her majesty’s subjects as they set sail in their frigate into the night sea. That was not to be.

The civil war that followed our treaty ‘The Irish Free State’ lasted a year and had the main man on the Irish side of the negotiations, Michael Collins, assassinated. It was a horrid affair. Only now, 91 years later did the president of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, have the courage to speak of that dirty civil war, where many of the deeds committed were based on retribution and point scoring and had little to do with the vision of a new Ireland for the people of Ireland.

When eventually the civil war ended and elected members of parliament filed into a relatively peaceful chamber, the people of Ireland got far less than they bargained for. I am reminded of a conversation I had some years ago with a Romanian gentleman who tearfully told me, how, after the popular uprising in his country which saw a brutal regime come to a sudden end with the execution of both Ceausescu and his wife Elena, what they got after was the hijacking of their dreams and souls by another corrupt regime no better than the one they had deposed.

Much the same happened in Ireland, but with much more stealth and when recently much was made of the looting of O’Connell street at the height of the 1916 Easter rising, little was made of the divvying up of the spoils that followed our civil war. Our so called public servants saw the opportunity to look after their own fate first with privilege, fat cat salaries and expenses and worst of all the culture of backhanders that endure to this day. Our public servants bemoaned the little bit of hardship they had to accept during a the recent collapse of the country’s economy and even then they burst into the then prime minister’s office banging the desk to demand a special exemption. They got it. The article in the Irish constitution which says that “…. all Irish paddys including the peasants will be treated equally in the eyes of the law” wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

That culture prevails to this day and it is highly guarded by the organs of the state including RTE, our national broadcaster. You very seldom hear a young voice or a controversial opinion on the national air waves unless they are talking about some safe nicety. Diarmaid Ferriter, one of our university history gurus said on the radio in couched language that maybe looking back, the Irish were hard done by. I won’t put words in his mouth but I wondered if he was saying that we got a bunch of corrupt thieves who lined their own pockets, who mismanaged every department and thwarted the prospects and dreams of a nation. It was the pure resilience of the Irish people that by and large they managed to scrape by in spite of the best efforts of cunning, thieveing clowns.

In Ireland this year we celebrated with great fanfare the 100th anniversary of the Easter rising. Many are still alive who stole from our country and never faced a dock to answer a few questions. Not that one could have too much faith in a judiciary appointed by the same dodgers who knew how to protect their own butts should the need arise. After all, he who pays the piper…

To this day corruption permeates our society. Our charities are corrupt sickos who steal food given with good intention out of children’s mouths. Our public service and our legal system has their soul destroyed by clandestine gobshites who know they can get away with dodge. There are a few high profile people banged up abroad at the moment facing investigation on charges of corruption. It is not surprising that back home in Ireland their friends are jumping up and down, saying, oh my God, that’s not illegal. You know they are half right, corruption is not and has not been illegal in Ireland and to quote Samuel Beckett “And the sun rises on nothing new.”

Recently, when a new government was formed in Ireland, the two main civil war parties where so shocked at the prospect of independents, who returned good numbers in the election, digging around cosy cartels that they ran into Trinity college to hammer out an historic coalition to protect that same privileged scammery that was formed when Michael Collins was dispatched, safely, cold in his grave.

Suggested viewing Michael Collins, the film.