Belfast Telegraph

Ireland has seen value of grown-up politics too late

By Kevin Myers

It makes no difference what was in the Budget unveiled in the Republic this week. The fiction of a truly Irish independent state is ended. It is now a joint EU-IMF administered area, the anomalous taxes of which will sooner or later be brought into line with the economic and political engine of Europe, the Rhenish Franco-German empire. In other words, it's over.

Internationally Administered Areas normally result from great conflict, as in Danzig between the wars, or Kosovo today.

Ireland is a pioneer in a new form of IAA governance: after incurring financial losses unprecedented in world history, it is a state no one wants.

And these losses were only made possible by a compulsive infantilism that infuses and informs so much in Irish life.

No matter: the fiction of an independent nursery is now over. The governesses from Brussels and Berlin have arrived. The Irish people are in their playpen.

They can bash their rattles against the cot, but they do not decide when the lights go out or what they get for breakfast.

Readers sometimes complain about how much I go on about 1916. I agree. It was stupid for me. The witless, historically illiterate reverential jumbo-jumbo that has surrounded that event, and which - quite appallingly - has been revived by Fianna Fail, is not the underlying problem of the Republic.

It is the sheer infantilism with which the affairs of the state are managed, meaning the iron law of consequence is endlessly ignored, like children scrambling up an electricity pylon.

So 1916 is like the conch of the marooned schoolboys in William Golding's Lord of the Flies - it is the focus of reverence in an undeveloped society, where infantilism is so commonplace that it is no longer perceived as such.

How else is it possible a TD could actually have complained last week that lifts in Leinster House were not bilingual? Or that as the state slouches towards total bankruptcy, Irish Language Commissioner Sean O Curreain is now calling for "positive discrimination" in favour of Irish-speakers in recruitment into the public service?

His speech in Tralee actually gathers in a nutshell the futility of the Irish-language project.

During their 13 years at school, he declared, Irish schoolchildren spend a thousand hours "learning" Irish, all at a cost of €700m £585m) a year. The "language" is mentioned in 140 separate Acts of the Dail - yet it is not in the top 10 languages used in the courts, and 98.5% of Irish public servants are unable to provide public service in it.

But instead of learning the lesson that, yes, it's over, Sean declares yet more state involvement in another doomed project will save the language - rather like how the bank guarantee rescued the Irish banks, I daresay.

More important and shocking than the Budget was the revelation that English literacy standards in Ireland are dropping: thus the reward of 15 years of the Celtic Tiger.

One could probably find greater levels of literacy in English amongst school-leavers in Hamburg and Copenhagen than in Moyross in Limerick and Darndale in Dublin, though the latter estates, of course, have had the splendours of a thousand hours of tuition in Irish.

Ireland is the only country in Europe that produces large numbers of school-leavers functionally illiterate in two languages.

Some other indices of the Republic's delinquency. Ireland produced no guide dogs for the blind until 1980, when four Irish dogs were trained by an English couple in Cork, Nigel and Sue Catterson.

The 32 other guide dogs in the Republic - which had a population of many hundreds of blind people - had all been imported from England.

Until recently, deaf boys and deaf girls in Ireland were taught two mutually incomprehensible sign languages. The only place of refuge, over most of the Republic, for a homeless child found wandering through the snows at midnight tomorrow will be a garda cell until Monday morning.

And these are just some of the signs of the state's moral failure: now add a few of your own. The truth is that the banks weren't Ireland's underlying problem. Ireland's real problem was Ireland.

The failure to behave like an adult nation meant the country never tried to build an army, or air force or navy - the true and defining hallmarks of sovereignty. And now it's too late. So just watch: the IMF-ECB inspectorate will soon close down a number of military barracks, maybe allowing the Republic just a small gendarmerie.

Thus, the Irish people shall forfeit the last illusions of independence: though of course, the bearded ones will regularly gather at the GPO and talk tearful gibberish about James Connolly, whose Marxist doggerel was soundly rejected by the electors the one and only time he stood for election in Dublin.

And that fine fellow so cherished the children of Ireland that he commissioned his 14-year-old son into the Irish Citizen Army, and then gave him a gun with which to kill his fellow Irishmen.


From Belfast Telegraph