Éire Ghaelach – Éire Shaor
As a Gaelic Republican I suppose my politics lie somewhere on the social-democratic centre-left. Sometimes my opinions veer towards the centre-ground, sometimes towards the far left. In the days of my (callow) youth I used to vote Fianna Fáil and Labour. Yes, that’s right, I was one of those fabled left-wing FF types. We did exist you know, until greed and corruption forced us to turn away from a party that we thought we knew (but perhaps never truly did). Fianna Fáil and Labour was the dream ticket for those like myself on the left of both, the desirable coalition with the proper balance of republicanism and socialism. Though never enough of both, if truth be told.
One detected early on that something was not quite right in the Fianna Fáil camp. A certain attitude or culture. A tendency to say one thing while doing the other. The generation of the party that spawned the Celtic Tiger scorned a belief in ideology or a core set of principles and eventually dumped their own to seize whatever seemed popular or advantageous at the time – however deplorable or ultimately destructive it may have been. They stole the clothes of Fine Gael and the Progressive Democrats, and covered them with a thin veneer of mindless populism. Power, avarice and cronyism became the guiding principles of the party and its leadership. As for Labour I could never bring myself to be wholehearted in my support. There was something not quite right about them too. A certain holier-than-thou, faux-liberalism that I couldn’t stomach. Some of the biggest snobs I’ve met in my life were young Labour activists. No one can condescend quite like a Labour Party member.
With the FF and Labour pigs wallowing in the trough during the hey-day of the Celtic Tiger I was left voteless, as it were. No question of supporting Fine Gael. For all sorts of reasons that was repugnant and remains so. Some might ask, why was the Fine Gael dog not as openly corrupt as its Fianna Fáil counterpart? The answer of course is that it didn’t need to be. The dog at the top of the dunghill does not need to worry over-much about the rivals fighting it out below. The so-called hard left (silly term) weren’t much better. Back in the day I had more than the odd clash with members of the Workers Party. Some were thoroughly honourable people, genuinely committed socialist republicans. However those at the top were less so, and increasingly less so as they took the reins of power and galloped the party off into near oblivion. Now days of course they sit atop the Labour Party, one time rivals infiltrated from within in classic Communist style (anyone remember the days of the Militant Tendency? The irony!). Of course these guys (and gals) had no more interest in Marx (or Trotsky) than they had in a hole in the wall. Well, except perhaps a hole-in-the-wall cash machine. Mercs and perks here we come. So no WP for me (though in fairness I’m not even sure what their politics are these days). As for the far distant outliers of leftwing politics in Ireland, the Socialist Workers Party, Socialist Party, et al. No thank you. The Socialist Party in particular left me stone cold and still does so. They have too much of the myopic internationalist about them, a party that would seem more comfortable on the streets of London than Dublin. I can’t but help think of the thoroughly disagreeable Kate Hoey when I see the opinions of some SP types (and she’s still at it!). There were indications of change but they have yet to appear (apparently).
For a while I found myself drifting towards the Greens until they showed their true colours. Teamhair was the start, Daingean Uí Chúis the last of it. Never again in my life will I vote Green. Never. These days I usually throw my number one to Sinn Féin (albeit with the odd sigh or two). I have a lot of issues with the party but there are precious little other choices. Truth be told there isn’t a political party out there that truly represents my views. But then again, doesn’t everyone say that? (unless you vote Fine Gael).
All of which rambling leads to nothing in particular ;-)