Charlie and Bertie: twin towers of southern wisdom

Brendan Behan thought that the one thing capable of making a bad situation worse was the arrival of a policeman. If he were alive today, he might want to add “Or a dim-witted comment from a major Fine Gael/Fianna Fail politician.”

What kind of dim-witted comment you ask, Virginia? In the case of C Flanagan, Esq, let me count the ways.

Last night Charlie Flanagan, who as Minister of Foreign Affairs naturally is the Fine Gael spokesman on the north of Ireland, was on the BBC’s Newsnight. Among other  things he served up in answer to questions were these:


  1. “I believe [Brexit] was a bad decision, but of course as a democrat I fully respect the will and wishes of the British people.” Sound man, Charlie – the powers-that-be in Westminster would have been fretting that  you might have got a bit annoyed with their will and wishes. It presumably didn’t cross your mind, as Minister of Foreign Affairs,  to turn the matter around and ask whether the will and wishes of the Irish people have been and are being fully respected by Britain? Yerrah, why would you be annoying the decent English people anyway.
  2. “I believe the relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland is now at its warmest ever.” Um, compared to when, Charlie? And what kind of an Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs feels really warm towards a neighbour who believes (and has always acted on the belief) that it has the right to exercise jurisdiction over a large part of Ireland?
  3. “I believe it’s important, in our context, that we have a situation at the end of these negotiations in two years’ time, or maybe even longer, where a member of the European Union, namely Ireland, cannot be placed in a position of more disadvantage than somebody who is leaving.”

–      Let’s step lightly by Charlie’s use of ‘Ireland’ when he means the twenty-six southern counties of Ireland/the Republic of Ireland. Instead, let’s concentrate on Charlie’s insistence that the south of Ireland doesn’t wind up worse off than the UK. So if the UK comes out of this deeply damaged (as it assuredly will), it’s OK for the south of Ireland as long as it’s not damaged even more than the UK? Shurely shome mishtake, Charlie. Don’t you think it’d make more sense to push for the south of Ireland not being damaged in any way as a result of Britain’s Brexit? Why should it be? Or have you resigned yourself to the fact that the south of Ireland will suffer collateral economic damage as a consequence of the UK’s Brexit blunder, and that the Irish people there must just suck it up?

At this point let us avert our eyes from Charlie and turn  to the Man They Couldn’t Kill,  to wit Bertie Ahern. There was a time about nine years ago when the single word “Bertie” was enough to have people in the south spitting blood and eating the wall-paper. But gradually, with the kind of north Dublin brass neck that knows no shame, Bertie has  more and more been pronouncing his verdict  on Irish political matters. And not a single journalist – so far – has said “Is this a joke or why are we listening to you, the man who sailed the state into an economic hurricane?”

No,  blithely unashamed, Bertie was talking yesterday to members of the Irish Seanad. He explained to them how   the Good Friday Agreement – which at one time, you’ll remember, he virtually claimed as the work of his own hands –  has got it totally wrong.

“The last thing I want out of Brexit, the last thing, the very last thing, is anyone on about border polls. The only time we should have a border poll, in my view, and I’ll argue this for the rest of my life, is when the nationalists and republicans and a respectable, sizeable amount of unionists and loyalists are in favour, and on the basis of consent. Having a sectarian headcount or political headcount is the last thing we should do.”

So when the Good Friday Agreement stated explicitly that when a majority of people in the north wanted constitutional change there should be constitutional change, it was only codding, Bertie? It really meant that when a “respectable, sizeable amount of unionists and loyalists” are in favour of constitutional change should anything be done?  If that’s the case, maybe it should be applied to government in the south. If Fianna Fail were (God forbid) to gain a majority of seats at the next election, that party shouldn’t even consider forming a government until  a respectable, sizeable amount of Fianna Fail and Sinn Féin TDs were in favour of such a change. Interesting variation on the theme of democracy, that.

Psst, Bertie. When you write and sign an agreement, you’re supposed to live up to what you’ve agreed. Maybe you’ve been spending too much time with DUP politicians.




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7 Responses to Charlie and Bertie: twin towers of southern wisdom

  1. Bridget Cairns April 7, 2017 at 9:18 am #

    There are words to describe Bertie’s opinions on a border poll and these are “fear” and “appeasement”. We must not democratically change the current status quo, lest the British & the Loyalists anchor their gunboats on the Liffey.

  2. giordanobruno April 7, 2017 at 10:05 am #

    Slow news day?

    Bertie appears to be only referring to the holding of a poll requiring consent not the outcome of the poll.

    All he seems to be saying is that uniting a divided island requires more than just a 50%+1 vote and hey presto all is well.
    If it is going to work a sizeable proportion of those who are currently unionist will need to be open to it to some degree.
    It is not at all like an election where the result is accepted in general by all parties.
    That is good sense so I don’t see what the big deal is.

    As for Charlie when he says the South should not be disadvantaged by Brexit in comparison to the UK he is merely stating the obvious, and it does not imply he would be satisfied if they only suffer the same disadvantage as the UK.
    I know there is not much to comment on regarding our talks limbo but even so this is stretching for something out of nothing.

    • Cal April 7, 2017 at 11:02 am #

      The exclusion of the poll makes the outcome rather non existent.

  3. Eolach April 7, 2017 at 10:18 am #

    Britain will never need to anchor their gunboats in the Liffey .There is a more than ample supply of “pseudo Irishmen” who are furtive and contemptible enough to always do Englands bidding….You’ll be head-scratching until you draw blood to find one honourable Irishman amongst the upper echelons of either FG or FF. Being loathsome and despicable towards us in the six is hard enough to stomach but they harbour the same detestable contempt for the electorate in the 26. Lets be under no illusions , in UI terms , a simple amalgam of north and south is a non starter….that would be a monstrous catastrophe and totally unacceptable ….we need a new negotiated Ireland ,thrashed out between all the peoples in Ireland ,totally secular and corruption free where the holding of public office is an honour and an accolade reserved for the finest in society…not the grubby free pass to gangsterism that it has become.

  4. Cal April 7, 2017 at 11:01 am #

    Extraordinary comments from Ahern in relation to the mechanics of the GFA. Effectively giving unionism a veto on Irish reunification.

  5. Perkin Warbeck April 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

    Fairly bloodcurdling to imagine, Esteemed Blogmeister , the kind of impression that Hammer Fillum Production called Charlie Flanagan made on the viewers of the Mainland.

    Because he was on TV the visual would have carried as much, if not, more weight than the vocal: thus that strange-sounding caption from a far-away place , Minister of Foreigh Affairs , will lodge longer in their memory than the tosh the Squashy- Faced Flanagan mouthed.





    Im-pressive, very.

    We had a similar type experience South of the Black Sow’s Dyke this morning, courtesy of the Editorial of the Irish Examiner:

    Census 2016 – Irish dying a slow death?

    ‘The census recorded a similar decline in the use of Irish. Of the 1.76m people who claimed they could speak Irish, only 73,803 spoke the language every day outside of the education system. This is 3,382 fewer than in 2011. In Gaeltacht areas, only 32% spoke Irish every day outside the education system. These figures tell a story of decline and rejection. They also bring a day of reckoning closer’ .

    Yes, indeed. No kicking for touch here, no beating about the fence or sitting on the bush neither. Nothing but straight talking, straight as the tower of Shandon, whose bells do sound so grand on the pleasant waters of de River Lee, boy.







    Im-pressive, very.

    And well it should be; for there can scarecely be a more supreme authority on the question of declne and rejection, a publication more accutely attuned to the nuances of the issues involved in, erm, a day of reckoning.

    Consider, sadly, the following: ten years ago, the circulation of The Irish Examiner was 60,000. Since then it has (gulp) plummeted to 30,000 or thereabouts. How De Paper might have welcomed a mere 3,000 drop in circs.

    Even a rebranding from The Cork Examner to The Examner to The Irish Examiner itself has failed to staunch the haemorraging of the circulation in de County of de Blood and Bandage, boy.

    What next?

    The, erm, European Examiner ?

    When the new editor of The Unionist Times was intereviewd on its broadcasting wing, RTE, yesterday he revealed how he had received many messages of congrats from former colleagues in The Irish Examiner where he used to work, at one time.

    It transpired that many of these messages had a plaintive PS attached, to the effect;

    -Please buy us, PULEASSSE !

    This would truly be a media marriage made in heaven (before it was abolished by the prevailing ethos of TUT) as The Irish Examiner has always seen itself and been seen by others too as de authentic voice of de Leeside Loyalist, like, aka, The Crosshaven Yacht Club Cabal, boy.

    Cork is the loyal versh of Corcaigh, the city of Seán Ó Riada, Seán Ríordáin and John A. Pint-sized which translates as ‘low lying swamp’ : could it be (sob) that what we are witnessing here is a (gulp) draining of the pompous publication so that (cue more crocodile tears) this may well be the last editorial on the results of a Census, from, erm:

    -The Ex-Editor of the Ex-Aminer?

    To conclude:

    THE GABBY C.A.B. of B.A.C.

    Whenever Charlie of Leix opts to speak
    Of the Queen’s County does Charles reek
    While dear old Bertie
    Down to earth, earthy
    Speaks a Drumcondra dialect of Greek.

  6. Jud April 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    Leo Varadkar has been saying very similar things to FG audiences as well.

    ‘”The demand for a border poll is alarming,” he said. “It is a return to a mindset in which a simple sectarian majority of 50pc plus one is enough to cause a change in the constitutional status of the North. It represents a mindset of: ‘There’s one more of us than you, so now we’re in charge. It’s our turn to dominate,'” he said.’

    There is no coincidence here.
    FG/FF have considered the prospect of a border poll and they don’t like what they see.
    Their messaging has clearly been agreed an coordinated.

    As to what it is they like least about a border poll, we could speculate.
    However, it is pretty certain it is not out of concern for the feelings of Northern Unionists.

    These folks see things only through the lens of their own self interest, and these days that is very simply about countering the electoral threat of SF.

    I think they are horrified at the prospect of a highly charged referendum campaign where SF are ‘all-in’ in campaigning for a yes vote – while they have to choose between lukewarm support at best – or more likely abstention.
    In the case of FG/Labour you could even see party members outright campaigning for a ‘No’ vote!

    This is not a place they want to find themselves.