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.
Your analysis is right on the nail. Many of the rich and / or privileged generally think that they live by their own rules while there are different ones for those outside the ‘charmed circle’. This is the case in all countries, and the principal task of the ‘outsiders’ should be to first expose and then replace these people with some who can be trusted, before the cycle starts all over again. Unfortunately, also in most countries, the media are co-opted in to support and shield these parasites.
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I guess in a way to add to what you say James, this is a very revealing moment. There is a sense that certain aspects as regards privilege aren’t as accentuated in this state (or on this island though perhaps that’s a little different) as they are elsewhere, and that may well be correct in some respects. But clearly a sense of privilege does exist. Re people not knowing about it in the Oireachtas. That would from what I can gather from those closer in to these matters be correct. One other thought, which has been raised elsewhere. Calleary et al aren’t spring chickens. How is it they figure themselves somehow having an immunity and lack of need for precautions us lesser mortals don’t have?
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Between Leo picnicking in the Phoenix Park, SF’s leadership at the funeral in Belfast, all the infighting and bitching about jobs for the boys and girls in the new Troika instead of concerns about the virus-stricken economy, and the lives lost or damaged, the sense of communal solidarity built up over the last few months has taken several blows.
Plus the latest revelations about semi-state officials, TDs and councilors swanning off to Spain and Italy for holidays. To save their deposits! Meanwhile I couldn’t even go to my own cousin’s funeral in Cork during the worse of the lockdown.
Infuriating stuff. And the damage to politics in the most general sense of the word is going to be dire.
With the dreadful examples of the US and UK and elsewhere in Europe when politicians and associates are seen as acting as a class unto themselves you would think our own pols would have more nous on these matters. Talk about willingly opening the gates of the city to the barbarians outside.
Google bobby storeys funeral good pece by Ian o doherty. Shiers total contempt for their fellow cit8zens
Saving deposits. You could not make it up.
That was a problem SF in Belfast. Genuinely counterproductive. Granted there was a couple of large funerals in the south prior to that with very large crowds too that went unoted, but it is something that they shouldn’t get wrong.
And while it’s not quite cause and effect, no surprise to see the usual suspects out in Dublin on Saturday.
Phil Hogan further trouble!
A funeral is a bit different to a p$$$ up in A Clifden hotel Souper.
Sorry about your cousin.
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Thanks. It was an unexpected death, he was young enough, and it has hit his immediate family terribly hard. His brother died at a very young age due to complications from a forestry accident, so my remaining cousins in Cork are devastated having lost their two brothers over twenty years apart. It was my mother’s family so she took not travelling down for the funeral very bad. It’s very strange living through something that will fill the chapters of future world history books, as you no doubt have experienced yourself.
Likewise, that’s a terrible blow.
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Ha!!!! Strange is the most positive adjective I can think of for this.
In fact, I’m in one of the worst zip codes in one of the “hot spot” states. It’s no fun at all. When I haven’t seen a mask scofflaw in several weeks and plenty of people are wearing face shields (often makeshift) as well.
Seeing this in such a badly affected area makes me think there’s likely one or more “cofactors” in this. It could be the BCG vaccine or air pollution levels. It could be a number of things. Trump is a rotten President, the state current State Governor is no prize, and the issues of mass testing and PPE have run into one clusterfuck after another. I’ve seen many of the fuck-ups firsthand and so have a number of people I know.
Yet, I still have a hard time believing that the reason some countries (including my own) have taken this pandemic just so hard, while others seems to have gotten off relatively lightly is entirely down to how the government handled it. Currently some hypotheses have data behind them while others are more speculative, but it might not be years until we really know with if any co-factors were involved.
That said, from the beginning I believed it would be hard to maintain any kind of solidarity under conditions where everyone is constantly forced to avoid people who aren’t in their immediate household. How long can any society endure in such an almost abstractified form? To me social distancing looks like a form of “misanthropy training” even if that wasn’t the reason it was implemented.
It seems like that forcing some an extreme form of cognitive dissonance on whole nations for months on end could have consequences we don’t even see right now.
This is a mess and there are no good answers to it. There really aren’t.
As for the way it’s gone in the US? There is some evidence that there is something going on other than a bad President and non-compliance on the part of individual people. It could be that the fact that US has never had a mandatory or universal BCG vaccine. It could be that having had the BCG means people have some partial protection from the virus-indeed there have been studies on BCG and respiratory viruses going back to the 1970’s. A lot of other countries that have taken this really, really hard like Italy have never done universal BCG vaccines either.
The fact that the US has rejected Compulsory BCG is NOT a Constitutional issue nor in any way about “freedom”, nor because Americans don’t accept mandatory vaccines. Certain US states have stricter compulsory vaccine rules than most EU countries when it comes to Measles, Rubella, Mumps, Polio, Diphtheria, et al. Not only that we’ve got a Supreme Court decision from 1905 that says you only have a right to refuse a vaccine if the risk falls solely on you. Otherwise, State Governments can require vaccines and allow only medical exceptions if they so choose. Given a serious enough public emergency they can send the County Sheriff for you, who will if necessary take you to public health or a doctor’s office in handcuffs kicking and screaming, and then have you restrained while the doctor, nurse or technician plunges that needle into your arm, squirts the stuff up your nose, or force feed an oral vaccine and detain you until vomiting it up can no longer stop it from working. They can dish out a less aggressive version of same to your children.
The rejection of BCG was entirely the AMA’s decision and based 100% on the thinking that the risk of a false positive tuberculin skin test for TB outweighed any benefit of the vaccine. I personally believe the decision should have been rethought by the time Drug Resistant TB was a known threat and certainly once evidence started rolling in that the BCG reduces the risk of Type 1 Diabetes and MS.
However “The risk of a false positive tuberculin skin test outweighs any benefit from the BCG.” remains the hill most AMA (American Medical Association) Committee members are willing to die on. They are 100X as obdurate on that point as the Vatican is on abortion.
I personally think that it was a really foolish position to double down on come hell or highwater. However, as much I might not like that position and as much as most readers will think it’s a dumb decision there’s no way they could have foreseen what we are currently facing from Covid-19 as a consequence of that decision.
ok first of all it was not ok for the politicians to go to an event with 80 people when the maximum was 50. i ve heard people call this orwellian but at the same time or not many days later an event was organised and held by the yellow vests and anti vaccine folk with thousands at it as a protest against the lockdown. there was no masks nor social distancing at it. i just sense a lot of hysteria about this subject. i am certainly no ff fg voter. but i do get the feelig oviosly no scientific fact that there is more to all this. for example the extreme right are using this pandemic as an opportunity to attain members and followers under all sorts of guises.so relatively golfgate is benign. if we start shouting wolf now what happens when there is a real wolf at the door. great site by the way
I suppose we can take away some positives from the controversy in the sense that our political class are still amenable to public anger or disquiet. A political scandal blows up, the Government acts, political and party heads roll, and more may follow. Yes, some of it is theatre to satisfy the demands for action and the offenders will be back again when the storm dies down (how many times have we seen that happen?). But some sort of public chastisement is better than none. And it does show that our democracy is still quite healthy, while some of our neighbours seem to be in a far more parlous state.
Thanks for that. It keeps me out of mischief! 😉
very true but on another topic i d love to hear your take on the far right gaining momentum at the moment and capitalising on this pandemic. i m talking about the np, siol na heireann (not a party but a private company supposedly) the freedom party and the yellow vests. I do realise that these groups stand for different things but they appear to be organising events together and using the pandemic as a way to attract more people to their causes or ideology. do you see this rise of the right and them organising together and using media platforms such as youtube and facebook to spread their message as anything to be concerned about. i m know its another topic altogether but id be very interested to hear your take on it because there appears to be a little hysteria about the place when you ask any of the protesters or event goers about said events.
I think your concerns are valid. A lot of right wing factions are taking advantage of this, and it’s likely happening in most countries. Part of the problem is that for those who support lockdown and restrictors, there’s a bit of wagon circling and unwillingness to take the grievances of people who’ve been confined to their homes with no light at the end of the tunnel seriously.
It is ironic that opponents of the lockdowns are often anti-vax. A lot of the “silent majority” of people from all political stripes is that want a vaccine so they can get their lives back!!!!
Hmm, isn’t it interesting how a group of the elite of society, including a Supreme Court Judge, an EU commissioner, a high ranking RTE Journalist, senators and ministers etc , most of whom, no doubt are very fond of themselves and many of whom are in the high risk age category for the dreaded Covid ninenineteen ninenineteen didn’t seem at all concerned about the supposed risks. Could it be they know something the plebs don’t? You can bet your house they do and now they must face punishment for nearly letting the cat out of the bag, but of course the plebs as usual haven’t been able to put two and two together.
Or you could put it down to plain old fashioned hubris and a sense of self-entitlement by the socio-economic upper class in Irish society, as we have seen time and time again. Covid-19 is real, is far more lethal than seasonal flus and so on, and has so many unknowns about it that to err on the side of caution is the only thing we can do.
Unless we adopt the Swedish attitude and practice a form of pandemic eugenics through senicide.
I don’t see how letting the pandemic run its course could be eugenics since we don’t have any evidence that those who survive it have more desirable genes. Also some risk factors have a weak genetic component or are not determined by genetics at all.
Also it’s a myth that only old people die or have serious consequences. A notable minority of young folks with no major risk factors have developed severe lung damage (to the point the MRI technicians say “This no longer even looks like a lung”) or even those with mild cases have developed what looks a lot like “chronic fatigue syndrome”. It’s like that many who were low risk and weren’t even hospitalized may be disabled and/or have ruined health over this virus. Several kids have this multi-organ inflammatory disorder.
So the premises of eugenics or that this virus is only a mortal threat the old are on shaky ground. The current statistics say that most of those who die of the acute phases of the disease are above a certain age, but could those with severe lung damage not die of later complications?
I know (not anybody close but acquaintance level) 3 people who have died of it. One of them was a young teacher (only 32, one of the last my mother had trained before retiring). I also know five “long haulers” and one 28 year old with severe lung from what seemed to be a “mild” case.
That said, it’s a total no win situation. The virus is horrible and the consequences of lookdown are horrible. It’s like choosing between two absolutely intolerable and utterly ruinous evils with no happy answers.
Hi Grace, I know that. I was making a snarky point to the conspiratorial implication in the Comment 😉
Yeah, sorry for getting carried away. It seems this pandemic is making absolutely everybody a little crazy in one fashion or another.
You think some of Oireachtas members might have obtained a DIY vaccine on the sly? That doesn’t seem to be the mentality of most Irish politicians. However, look at China’s recent admission about having been secretly vaccinating medical personnel and members of their military for weeks. It’s hard to take anything for granted these days.
The only possibility I can think of that is if they’ve somehow gotten one of the DIY vaccines, since some of those are done with very little fanfare:
Monoclonal antibody cocktails are much more closely watched and harder to manufacture in any small lab, so I’d dismiss that. Prophylactic antivirals would involve a much higher chance factor.
A DIY vaccine and/or maybe having tried Dr. Gallo and Dr. Chumakov’s idea about live oral polio vaccine causing short term protection.
Are they savvy enough to find that information? I would be skeptical as Irish politicians seem to be heavily drawn from the legal profession. Counterparts of Angie Merkel most of them are not!!!