What on earth was going through the minds of the eighty-plus former and serving politicians, public officials, members of the judiciary and media, as well as businessmen and lobbyists, who held a commemorative dinner party at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, County Galway, last Wednesday night? Following several months of pandemic-driven restrictions and concerns in the country, surely someone at the reportedly lavish gathering must have thought that this was not the best idea, even with the loosening of the government-mandated regulations? Or was it, as many now believe, that most of the attendees were under the impression that there is one rule for the minority in here and another rule for the majority out there?
The exclusive nature of the get-together in Clifden is highlighted by the revelation that some left-wing members of the Oireachtas were unaware of the existence of the Oireachtas Golf Society, an innocuous sounding name for a club whose membership is drawn primarily from the upper echelons of the traditional centre-right government parties, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour, plus the usual gene-pool hangers-on. Which adds further weight to the accusation that excessive influence in this country continues to lie in the hands of what was once dubbed the Golden Circle: a deeply embedded power-peddling cartel of shared interests in politics, the press and big business.
The crisis-prone coalition administration led by Micheál Martin is clearly intent on riding out the storm whipped up by the scandal, hoping to mollify public outrage with resignations and the removal of whips from errant party members, while waiting for the next turn in the news cycle. The genuine expressions of contrition by some figures in the government parties has been balanced by the attitude among others that their only real regret is being caught out in the first place. And their befuddlement at having their cosy sub rosa hooley exposed by their nominal friends and allies in the media.
All of which, of course, adds further fuel to the anti-science, anti-lockdown fire various far-right and alt-right agitators are trying to light across Ireland, and whose conspiratorial opinions are beginning to take hold across some parts of the domestic internet.