I like Fintan O’Toole. Although I’m sure he’s near to fifty, there’s a certain boyishness about the way he tackles an issue. His eyes light up behind the glasses, his rate of speech accelerates to near Garret-Fitzgerald levels and he usually uses a word or two that I’ve never heard before. No, not rude words, Virginia. Just unfamiliar to me.
There’s a good example in today’s Irish Times. In a piece entitled “Never mind the evidence, feel the ‘truthiness’ of what Gerry Adams says”, Fintan maintains all his terrier-like enthusiasm while at the same time going all ironic. You know this from his first sentence: “I owe Sinn Féin an apology”. You know that this is irony because Fintan would never ever, in non-ironic terms, apologise to Sinn Féin for anything he’s written about them. And by gum, he’s written a few in his time, eh?
So what’s this new word he’s got, ‘truthiness’? He says it’s from the American satirist Stephen Colbert and it means believing in something because it feels right rather than that it accords with ‘mere evidence’. He then goes on to list how Gerry Adams has denied he was in the IRA while evidence says he was, how Gerry said his brother Liam was evicted from Sinn Féin but the evidence says otherwise, that he has urged people who are victims of sexual abuse to go to the social services but that he knew a man who was a child abuser (his brother) and still let him have access to children. In fact a lot of it but not all is directed at Gerry and his dealings with his brother Liam, but he manages to make room for Martin McGuinness too, because Martin called for Sean Brady to resign and didn’t call on Gerry Adams to resign.
By now you’ve probably got the picture: Fintan being really scorching with talk of “people who operate at this higher level of truthiness” being “dogged” (no, Virginia, I don’t think it means that) by “those who are stuck on the muddy ground of mere truth”. If you haven’t got the message under the irony by now, let me try to sum up: Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and sundry Sinn Féin personnel are all liars, and people like Fintan are truth-tellers. Right. Got that. Only then in the last sentence of his piece, what does Fintan do but refer to “those who would like to be governed by people who act on evidence, rather than what they feel”.
Crikey. I thought he was talking about the Shinners and truth/facts with evidence, but that last line clearly shows he’s got Enda Kenny, Micheal Martin, Joan Burton and virtually all of the Irish media in his sights. Maybe even himself as well. Because I mean, they’ve been acting on what they feel about Mairia Cahill for a couple of weeks now, rather than evidence, haven’t they?
That Fintan. He’s so sharp, one of these days he’ll cut himself…Sorry, Virginia? You say he’s just done it with that last sentence of his? Surely not. Not Fintan. Sure isn’t he the smartest man in Ireland.