The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Take My Hat Off to You, Sir.

It is a rare thing indeed that I bring myself to pay any sort of compliment to a politician and a much rarer thing yet to an Irish politician. But extraordinary events require extraordinary commentary.

When I read in the press about the Irish premier (or Taoiseach to his mates) tearing the Vatican a new asshole, I was left stunned with admiration. Now let’s be clear, this ass-tearing has been a long time coming and when you hear about the case at hand, it’s hard not to clench your fists.

It has to do with two cases of child abuse that had taken place in a small diocese near Cork called Cloyne and which were being investigated by the National Board for Safeguarding Children. The local Bishop, John Magee was not only being uncooperative with the investigators but it also came to light that he had not being implementing the self-regulating procedures against abuse that had been put into place by the bishops of Ireland in 1996.

Thanks mostly to the NBforSC, the work of some diligent journalists and despite the threat of court action by the diocese, the report which showed the total neglect and mismanagement of child abuse cases came to light. The scandal finally forced Magee to resign in 2010. To his credit, the Archbishop of Dublin did protest about a ‘cabal’ in the Irish Catholic church who were determined to impede any advances in child abuse investigation.

Then to make things worse, the head of the Holy See Press Office, Federico Lombardi waded in saying it was very “strange to see the Vatican criticized so heavily” and that the bishops’ letter was only a “study document”. And that I believe is when our Taoiseach finally lost his rag.

Before the previous election, the ruling party which had been more or less the dominant Irish political party since our independence, was always associated with the old boys’ network. Conservative opportunists, they were in bed with the wealthy elite, the church and the judiciary in a way that proved to be very unhealthy for the nation. To their credit, they did position Ireland in such a way as to make it very attractive for foreign investment. However as the country began to benefit from this new wealth, they did bugger all to reign in all their speculating buddies in the construction and banking industries resulting in an even bigger credit-fueled feeding frenzy than was already happening in the rest of the world. The bubble that formed and then burst and from which the country will be reeling for the next couple of decades, is what lost them the last elections and ushered in Mr. Kenny’s coalition government.

Curiously enough, when Kenny was in opposition he was seen as being a weak, bland wishy-washy character who didn’t hassle the ruling government nearly as much as he should have. So when he was elected as Taoiseach, most people considered him little more than a stopgap, a lesser evil than what had gone before.

Surprisingly, the current administration has successfully negotiated more favorable repayment terms for the crippling EU bailout to Ireland. And now this speech, which basically makes it clear to the Vatican that Ireland is a sovereign state and that the rights of the citizens are above the interests of any religious entity. You know? Like a real, proper country. Let’s be clear, there is now way in hell that the previous administration would have taken this position because they thrived on the archaic and stale status quo that had kept the country in the dark ages for so long.

Another interesting point is that Kenny emphasized that he is a practicing Catholic and that this was not an attack on the church but on those individuals who were letting down the church and its members. He also took aim at the state’s failure to monitor, prevent and punish these crimes.

Another surprising and hopeful sign is that Kenny’s popularity ratings have gone up since the speech was made. Maybe there is hope for that country yet.

I still can’t believe my ears when I hear this.