From top: John Gormley (top), former Government Minister and Leader of the Green Party arriving at the Dail for the Banking Inquiry yesterday; Dan Boyle
Attending the Banking Inquiry with John Gormley on a bill that includes Mary Harney…
Something rings a bell.
Dan Boyle writes:
The quintessential Cork job is currently being advertised. For a giddy few moments I considered applying. St. Anne’s Church in Shandon is looking for someone to manage the bell ringing there. Whoever gets the job would instantly acquire perfect Cork credentials. Although I suspect after a few months of working there a Quasimodo type madness may set into their consciousness.
I’m thinking of this job, as a means of diversion but also as a very laboured literary device to justify the title of this piece. Where I’m sitting I sense that bells, or least things on which bells are attached, if not being rung are certainly being pulled.
I’m in the main committee room in Leinster House 2000. I used to sit around that table thinking I could change the World, or at least make the country a better place to be. Even changing procedures proved impossible.
I’m here at the Banking Inquiry with John Gormley. For some perverse reason the Inquiry has decided he be questioned at the same time as Mary Harney. The previous week The Taoiseach tagged team with Richard Bruton on behalf of Fine Gael. Labour’s ‘Dancing With The Stars’ routine was Joan Burton uncomfortably alongside the rapier wit of Pat ‘Zorro’ Rabbitte. Now the two parties who had been making up the numbers in government, the PDs and the Greens, were being asked to share the one berth.
Of course it was all part of a deliberate choreography. I remembered how a similar thing had happened to me, in the late 1990s during a by-election in Cork. Candidates were invited to participate in a political discussion programme hosted by Frank (Mahon Tribunal) Dunlop and Fergus (I’m not a Spin Doctor) Finlay.
The two presenters sat in the gaps between three strategically arranged couches. In the centre couch sat Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney alongside Toddy O’Sullivan of the Labour Party. To the right sat Sinéad Behan of Fianna Fáil who was with Peter Kelly of the PDs.
I sat on the left, mostly out of shot. With me was the candidate of the Natural Law Party. The inference was clear – this was the mad couch. To make the inference absolutely clear Fergus Finlay turned to me for my first question stating “Wouldn’t it be true to say that the two of you share many of the same policy positions?”
Now The Greens have never had a policy on levitation. I have heard that Labour Party strategists are considering adopting it as one of the better means out their current electoral situation though.
For those who engineer these situations there is an inherent logic to this. Politics is about perception. Only an idealist would think that politics should have depth, coherence or even honesty.
This is the context in which John Gormley is trying to explain. It is for the most part an impossible task. The narrative has developed that The Greens in government were dangerously naive, passive in the face of some of the worst governance the country has ever experienced.
That is narrative as perception. It is a perception helped in its development by The Greens choosing to do their questioning, their proposing and their counter proposing not in any public way, but strictly within the confines of government.
In relation to the Banking Inquiry there isn’t any need to ask who is tolling the bell. They appear obvious in their Quasimodo like grotesqueness. From its inception they have been perched around the bell tower knowing which bodies were to be thrown off. At least that’s my perception.
Dan Boyle is former Green Party TD