Top from left: Kieran Mulvey, Pat Hickey, Annalise Murphy, Shane Ross and John Treacy celebrate Ms Murphy’s silver in the sailing on the eve of Pat Hickey’s arrest in Rio; Dan Boyle
Pat Hickey and Shane Ross are helping make a soap opera out of a crisis.
Dan Boyle writes:
It’s difficult to get hooked into any soap opera when all its characters are unsympathetic. In Rio there is at least the advantage of an exotic locale.
The telenovela currently being produced is not likely though to endear itself to key sectors of the audience, its narrative being overtly soaked in testosterone.
The cast is full of JRs but there is no Bobby Ewing.
On the one hand we have the egomaniacal and international prestige junkie, who is not a politician but is more political in his approach to his work than anyone can be.
On the other hand we have the actual politician, who has traded on being an anti-political and who is finding it difficult to transition from poacher to gamekeeper.
He too seems obsessed with a need for constant ego gratification. The soap aficionado, whose predeliction is misery would be better to stick with ‘Eastenders’.
And yet my sympathy gravitates towards the hapless politician. His dislikeable characteristics aside, he does hold a public office which brings with it the need to protect the public interest along with the public purse strings.
It’s unfortunate that the barrister proferring the advice that the Minister “should be put back in his box” is female. It spoils the mental image of an exaggerated moustache being stroked. It also confuses disdain for an individual with disdain for the State.
The Minister hasn’t helped, of course, by resorting to the default reactionary mode so beloved by him and Irish politics in general.
It isn’t outrageous to apply a principle that any body in receipt of public funds should only be given such funds when proper levels of governance are seen to be in place.
Among such standards should be term limits for office holders, and the accepting the need for independent scruitiny as and when such situations arise.
Perp walk arrests and presenting evidence in public prior to a courtroom appearance certainly add to the sense of drama. It may strike us as strange. It does though have elements of honesty to it, in making justice seen to be done.
In Ireland our archaic libel laws prevent effective displays of public disgust being made. We are limited in those on whom we can heap social oppobrium.
Politicians, obviously, are fair game. Civil servants as a generic group also seem open to disdain. Business people, as individuals, seem uniquely to possess a right to protect their good names.
When these great and good donate or are seen to participate in a public good, the ability to question their character or motivation recedes further.
If the Minister who oscillates between Transport and Sport, can succeed in changing this culture then he should be rewarded.
Perhaps RTÉ could do so by resurrecting its long running, now long forgotten radio serial, with a new cast of characters. Let’s have ‘The Hickeys of Castle Ross’.
Dan Boyle is a former Green Party TD and Senator. Follow Dan on Twitter: @sendboyle