Smile – it’s the IMF gang

Ireland's Prime Minister Brian Cowen (C) arrives to speak to the media at the National Convention centre, in Dublin, November 18, 2010. Ireland's central bank chief said on Thursday he expected Dublin to receive tens of billions of euros in loans from European partners and the IMF to shore up its shattered banks though the government said it had made no request yet.    REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton (IRELANDPOLITICS BUSINESS - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)

There’s  a contrary streak in me, I’m afraid. Surrounded by people celebrating, I find myself growing morose and miserable; in the midst of those solemn or crying doom, I feel an urge to start laughing. Wretch that I am, over the course of the last twenty-four hours I found myself grinning and sometimes guffawing out loud. Here are five of my top rib-ticklers.

1.    Watching Fianna Fail ministers bust a gut trying to deny that an IMF deal would impinge on Irish sovereignty. Like, if you’re about to go under for the third time and a guy says he’s going to throw you a life-belt but you’ll have to put up with some spartan conditions he’s arranged, once you get to shore – that’s not impinging on your sovereign right to make free choices?

2.    Hearing the bleating of twenty-six-county commentators and opposition politicians,  as they lamented the massive dent in sovereignty that the IMF coming in would represent,  how the sacrifice of 1916 was being betrayed – without a single one of them mentioning the north. Hello – guys? You remember the north. The six northern counties of Ireland, where all major political decisions are controlled from London and where 5,000 heavily-armed British troops make sure things stay that way. No loss of sovereignty there but massive loss of sovereignty in getting the finances straight?

3.    Looking at a photograph in today’s Guardian.  It shows Ajai Chopra, the deputy director of the European department of the International Monetary Fund, striding along a Dublin street with his underlings.  He’s staring straight ahead, which means he can pretend not to see the Dublin beggar who sits with his paper cup extended for a bail-out. Sorry, hand-out.

4.    Gasping at Steve Bell’s cartoon in The Guardian. It shows a helpless Brian Cowen strapped to a post, saying ‘ME? Bend over and SPREAD ‘EM? NEVER in a MILLION YEARS!!’  while behind him a dozen European elves carrrying a very stout post come charging towards his exposed bum.

5.    Finally and top-fun of all,  an SDLP apologist called Owen Polley writes in the VO this morning. He uses his article to explain why Maggie Ritchie wore that poppy and apparently it’s because she’s busy reconciling the SDLP’s ‘aspiration for Irish unity with longstanding acceptance of the principle of consent’. Eh? She is also ‘making a respectful, bridge-building gesture’ while at the same time ‘championing a 32-county republic’. And there’s more.  The article is 800 words long and the knock-out hilarity is that the writer doesn’t once use the four-word phrase ‘South Down unionist votes’. If young Polley had any wit, he’d turn from the tight-fisted payroll of the VO  and sprint towards the lucrative world of stand-up comedy. He’d be brilliant.

3 Responses to Smile – it’s the IMF gang

  1. Pat November 19, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    Now you really need to calm down and watch the blood pressure there Jude.

    Firstly, the fact that the typical journalist,politician, punter on the street in the “26 Counties” doesn’t put the “Occupied 6 Counties” top of (or actually, anywhere on) their list of priorities shouldn’t be that much of a shock to you surely by now?

    Secondly, do you really, really believe in the depths of your heart that it is only the 5,000 troops which keeps Northern Ireland British? No other inconvenient factors come to mind?

    Thirdly, Owen Polley is a (afaik) still a member of the UUP, far from being an apologist for the SDLP. More someone (unlike yourself) who can see beyond the (euphemism alert) *communalist* ditches that inhibit politics here. Try looking beyond the obvious sectarian certainties yourself sometimes.

    Fourthly, several SF apparachniks have refered coyly to the “Unionist” voters of South Down voting in Ms Ritchie just as they previously referred to the “Unionist” voters of Foyle deciding to vote for Durkan. There is no such thing as a “Unionist” voter until they actually put that “x” against the DUP, UUP, TUV. Perhaps then you (as with the other apparachniks) really meant to say “the Protestant” voters of S Down but for some strange reason perhaps that doesn’t publicly read quite as well?

    Not the main point though; as someone who professes themselves to be wanting a 32 county state shouldn’t you be actually welcoming the fact that an Irish nationalist party is attracting votes across the sectarian divide? Or is all that Wolfe-Tone polemics from Sinn Fein we hear every April simply for the optics?

  2. Jude Collins November 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm #

    Thanks for your extended and interesting posting, Pat. Let me try to squeeze a few minutes to respond to one or two points.

    1. My blood pressure is actually terrifically good. My doctor says it comes from laughing at some of the things I encounter, many of them from politicians and pundits, but she’s a unionist so maybe she’s trying to lull me into a false sense of security.
    2. I’m sure you’re right that the politicians, pundits and punters of the south don’t put the north top of their priorities. I’m trying to remember where I suggested they were.
    3. Re 5,000 troops: right again, Pat. It’s not just the 5,000 troops. It’s a few other things as well, including the one million unionists. But again, I don’t think I said that it was just the 5,000 troops, did I? Mind you, if I hold a gun to your head, it’s a fairly strong element when I try to persuade you I’m entitled to act a particular way, isn’t it? So 5,000 British gunmen: not the only factor but a pretty formidable one.

    4. Owen Polley is a UUP man? How interesting. I’d never have guessed it. I think if you read his piece you’ll maybe be a bit more forgiving of my mistake. I’m not sure how you leap from that to concluding that I’m caught in some sectarian time-warp. Sounds a wee bit like name-calling, Pat.
    5. Re unionist votes in S Down: I think we have to face facts, whether we delight in them or detest them. Fact: the vast majority of people here vote Protestant/Unionist and Catholic/nationalist or republican. If that wasn’t the case the political scene here would have changed radically over the last fifty years. Then look at the number of votes Maggie Ritchie got and other candidates got. In short, people who normally/traditionally vote unionist have voted for Maggie, just as normally/traditionally unionist voters in the Shankill voted for Joe Hendron a long time ago. To call them unionist voters is reasonable if in the normal run of things they vote unionist. I wouldn’t call them Protestant voters because I’m interested in their politics, not their religion. But if you want me to say ‘Protestant’ rather than ‘unionist’, fine, I’ll say it. Protestant. There. It’s not a dirty word, Pat. Honest.
    6. Votes across ‘the sectarian divide’. I think your use of that term confirms the point I made under 5. I’m not interested in people voting across ‘the sectarian divide’ – that’s got no necessary bearing on republicanism or even nationalism. There have been a number of people here – a small number – who’ve consistently voted ‘across the sectarian divide’ . They’re called the Alliance Party. I think I can distinguish between the goals of the Alliance Party and those of republicanism.

    OK. Time to return to work, Pat. Go raibh cead maith agat aris – I enjoyed reading – and responding to – your comments.

  3. st etienne November 19, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    laughable sectarian overtones.