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The Politics Of Brutal Bruton

John Redmond The British Ventriloquist
John “Brutal” Bruton

Former Fine Gael leader and arch Euro-federalist John Bruton is generally regarded as the most economically right-wing Taoiseach Ireland has had in living memory. His term of office in the mid-1990s was pretty poor even by the mediocre standards of Irish politics, not helped by his obvious pro-British sympathies and antipathy to the emerging détente in the in north-east of the country (meeting a member of the British royal family while serving as Taoiseach na hÉireann was the “greatest day of my life” and the effort to facilitate negotiations between the British government and the (Provisional) Irish Republican movement was characterized as the “fucking peace process”). Since retiring from Irish politics he has become safely ensconced in the world of international diplomacy, think-tanks and non-executive company boards – while serving as a high-profile, corporate lobbyist with considerable (and frankly inexplicable) clout both in Ireland the EU.

Recently he has gained further notoriety by (again) criticising the events of the 1916-23 Irish Revolution in a number of speeches for British audiences, claiming, against all factual sense and reason, that Ireland could have regained some form of limited autonomy from Britain without a military struggle by the Irish people. It’s not often that a former head of government will attack the foundation of the very state he governed. Such is the inferiority complex of Ireland’s overclass: former slaves seeking the protection of the old master (Britain) or in the case of Bruton and company, new ones (the European Union).

So when someone who generally had a sympathetic opinion of “Brutal Bruton” throws up his arms in despair you know our former Taoiseach has completed the transition from man of the people to man of the Big House. The view of the former Labour spin doctor Fergus Finaly in the Irish Examiner:

“Is he naïve? Stupid? Unthinking? Callous? Some combination of all of those qualities?

Or is he some kind of visionary, a prophet determined to speak truth to power?

Actually, John Bruton is none of the above. For all sorts of reasons though, he’s a million miles removed from the ordinary struggles of people’s lives. And that removal from other people’s realities has produced a leading public figure who seems incapable of genuinely understanding how most of the world around him lives. He has arrived at the point where it really is impossible to take him seriously any more.

…I read in the Sunday Independent newspaper a speech given by John Bruton in which he asserted that there were credulous people in Ireland who believed that bankers were in some way responsible for the austerity we’ve had to endure — just as in the 17th century people blamed witches for everything that went wrong.

At first I thought it was a joke.

…he’s also on the record as saying that it’s long past time that we stopped asking banks and financial service companies to invest in the tiresome business of complying with regulation. He recently said that we needed to accustom ourselves to ten more years of austerity…”

Interesting use of the word “ourselves“, no?

6 comments on “The Politics Of Brutal Bruton

  1. an lorcánach

    excellent article, sionnach: this is just the start of the intensive ideological war in advance of bruton’s beloved Hiberno-Ireland following the UK in leaving the greater federal EU — some years ahead admittedly but already small-arms fire in last few weeks


  2. an lorcánach

    from ‘THE PHOENIX’, AUGUST 15, 2014


    THE battle for hearts and minds over the centrality of 1916 in the foundation of the state has been greatly enflamed by former Fine Gael Taoiseach, John Bruton. But the Blueshirts are not exactly enamoured by the blundering blunderbuss that is Bruton as it is FG rather than Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin that has been put on the defensive by John Redmond’s champion. But while Bruton is at least consistent in
    his Redmondite view of Irish history, his latest outburst may have been spurred by something rather
    more immediate and personal.
    Efforts by the government to anaesthetise the 1916 centenary were laid a while back and the then arts minister, Jimmy Deenihan, re-established the Oireachtas All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations (OAPCGC) when the government was formed in early 2011. But the real game plan was only unveiled publicly with a speech from Enda Kenny on the day of Michael D Higgins’ inauguration in November 2011. Kenny
    made clear that commemoration of 1916 was to be subsumed into a plethora of commemorations of equal stature. These were to include World War I, the Battle of the Somme and the 1913 lock-out.
    Higgins’ own inaugural speech that day was a direct counter blast to that of Kenny’s with 1916 placed as the central event in the decade leading to Irish independence although nobody, apart from The Phoenix
    (see Annual 2011) took any notice of the clear dichotomy between the Taoiseach and the President. But a third speech made by Bruton and published by a willing Irish Times the same day sided with Kenny in
    the view that 1916 was just one of several events of significance in the decade of commemoration. However, Bruton went further with a paean of praise for those who opposed 1916, namely, Redmond and his
    Home Rule party. The distinction between Kenny and Bruton also went unnoticed but Bruton has now come back to bite Kenny’s party again on this issue.
    There is real anger within FG at the repeated and provocative outbursts of their former leader and Taoiseach, especially following the reaction to the Government’s suggestion that British royals would be
    invited to the 1916 commemorations. Bruton has followed another ex-FG Taoiseach, the late Garret Fitzgerald, in making unhelpful statements on this and other issues. But Bruton’s latest statements followed Kenny’s nomination of Phil Hogan as Ireland’s EU commissioner – even though, as Goldhawk can
    reveal, Bruton let it be known that he was “willing to serve.” Of course, Kenny had fallen out with Bruton last year over other unhelpful statements he had made on the abortion referendum, but given Bruton’s sense of his own worth – a former Taoiseach etc – he felt seriously snubbed at the rejection.
    FG members are now frustrated at Kenny’s silence so far in face of Bruton’s comments which, they argue, paint FG as a ‘West Brit’ party that has no pride in the foundation of the state. They want Kenny to
    make a statement to the contrary.
    FF’s Micheál Martin has played a wily but perhaps counter productive game in this debate by allowing Éamon Ó Cuív and Senator Mark Daly to go on the offensive against Bruton and FG’s Heather Humphreys
    (she is now responsible for the decade of commemorations). But Martin is the party leader and spokesman on the North while the other two are anything but representative of the party and Martin’s own silence indicates that he is more nervous about SF than FG. Repeated statements by Gerry Adams attacking Bruton’s Redmondite line indicate that Bruton’s main achievement so far has been to assist SF’s claim to the mantle of 1916.
    This debate parallels the furore over Gaza in which the Government’s refusal to support a United Nations inquiry into Israeli mass murder of Palestinians is totally out of line with popular Irish revulsion. Both FF and SF have exploited this mercilessly and there is dismay within FG at the apparently
    pro-Israeli position of the government.

    foinse: l. 10, ‘affairs of the nation’


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