Yesterday in his Irish Times column entitled “Demented notions of patriotism”, Fintan O’Toole, with surgical precision, nailed the lie of Mary O’Rourke’s ludicrous charge of “treason” against Enda Kenny, and laid bare the rotten heart of FF’s political culture.
It’s one of O’Toole’s most succinct pieces of work and it should be compulsory reading in every civics class in the state.
I’ve reproduced below some of the more telling comments from O’Toole’s column. (Apologies but I can’t create a link. If someone else can, please do.)
“When Fianna Fáil is in a corner, it tends to reveal itself. An underlying, and perhaps unconscious, world view emerges. It can be summed up in three words: L'etat c'est nous - we are the State.”
“Reinforced by the experience of being an almost permanent party of government, and stripped of its historical and ideological meaning, it becomes the epitome of banana republicanism - the dictator's equation of criticism with treason.”
“Mary O'Rourke was on Newstalk radio's Breakfast Show...She told Ger Gilroy: "Can I say on Enda Kenny, I cannot believe a leader of a very proud party called Fine Gael committed such a disloyal treasonous act? The Taoiseach was out of the country. He was flying the flag for Ireland. As I sit here at my desk, I've a small Irish flag on my desk to remind me of the honour of being a member of the Oireachtas. He's doing business for Ireland, he's flying the flag . . . What has enraged me, absolutely enraged me is the idea that you could commit such an act of treason that you would seek to pull him down while he is away doing the Government's business, the country's business."
As a comic turn, the notion that it is treasonous to raise the awkward issue of Bertie Ahern's finances and tax affairs when he is outside the jurisdiction (including, presumably, when he is Manchester) is good for a laugh. But this "hit me now with the green flag wrapped around me" posture has a serious side.”
“It was Ahern who described Charles Haughey as, of all things, "a patriot to his fingertips". When a man who prostitutes the most important office of State for money is a great patriot and anyone who dares to criticise the Taoiseach's finances is a traitor, the topsy turvy morality of the party stands forward, naked and unashamed.”
“When the party is the leader and the leader is the State, these demented notions of patriotism and treason make some kind of weird sense.
Let's remember what, in this world view, is not treasonous. It is not treason to line your pockets with private donations while you're in well-paid public office.”
“It is not treasonous to accept large sums from private citizens while you are minister for finance. Or to withhold evidence from a tribunal established by the Oireachtas until it discovers it for itself. Or to be unable to produce a tax clearance certificate. Or to state, quite bluntly, that you appoint people to State boards because they are your friends. But it is treasonous to criticise any of these things.”
“If the leader of Fianna Fáil embodies the State, then by definition he cannot dishonour the State. No amount of grubbiness, no extreme of evasion, can be seen as disloyalty to Ireland, because that quality belongs innately to those who are outside Fianna Fáil. And when patriots are traitors and traitors patriots, how can public morality mean anything?”