JAMES JOYCE, CHANNEL 4, ELECTIONS, AND QUEENSBERRY RULES by Donal Kennedy


James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, left Ireland in 1904,  died in Switzerland in 1941, retained a United Kingdom passport and never cast a vote in an election.

Eamon de Valera, born in New York in 1882, died in Ireland in 1975, led Sinn Fein to victory in General Elections in 1918 and 1921, Fianna Fail to victory in elections from 1932 to 1948, again in 1951 and 1957 and was elected President of Ireland in 1959 and 1966. Between 1932 and 1959 Dev spent only six years in opposition and, without dropping ,a beat spent the next fourteen years as the elected  Head of State.

Joyce has been dead 79 years and de Valera over 44 years . I imagine neither cast their votes in last week’s election.  I cannot imagine any relevance of Joyce to it. I’ll concede that de Valera’s creation, Fianna Fail contested it, but poor Micheal  Martin, a third time loser will never fill Dev’s boots (nor Leo Varadkar fit the Greatcoat of Michael Collins.) 

I prefer Channel 4’s News Coverage to that of the BBC or ITV. But Paraic O’Brien’s coverage from Dublin the evening of the poll was a cop-out. He went to Joyce’s Tower in Sandycove, featured in the opening pages of Ulysses, where Joyce and Oliver St John Gogarty (“Buck Mulligan”) host a wealthy Englishman who presumes to lecture them on Irish History, telling them how his country had abused theirs. They take him for a gobshite and allows him to pay for their drinks. But O’Brien is an Irishman and has another agenda – to duck the fact that Sinn Fein’s current performance has upset rotten fruit in the FF-FG Applecart. So O’Brien visits pubs which feature in Ulysses and where pages from Ulysses, particularly the one where Leopold Bloom, is threatened by an overly nationalistic “Citizen” (wrongly identified by Joyce’s American biographer, Richard Ellman, with GAA founder Michael Cusack)  The idea is that Sinn Fein, which has been stressing the fact that Ireland, awash with money but has a third rate health system and a housing shortage, is banging on about its long abandoned support for armed  struggle. It may be a coincidence that the late Mr Ellman admiration, for his other literary Dubliner, Oscar Wilde.   Wilde sought the imprisonment of Lord Queensberry for Criminal Libel and perjured himself in his efforts.  He brought about his own downfall. Hoist with his own petard, to quote a noted Bard.

Paraic O’Brien and all media  might adopt the Marquess of Queensberry Rules. Or risk being Hoist with their own Petard.



Two days later Paraic O’Brien was back on Channel 4 from Dublin, telling viewers most of whose knowledge of Ireland may have been garnered from the Bull in Ambridge that an Oddball Voting System called Proportional Representation was used there. In fact the system was imposed on Ireland by the British Government, led by David Lloyd George to clip Sinn Fein’s wings after that party’s landslide victory in 1918 while Crown Forces were murdering the voters and their elected representatives. Lloyd George acted on the advice of the high  command of the Royal Irish Constabulary. J.P.Scott, the longtime Editor of THE MANCHESTER GUARDIAN, a former Liberal MP and
confidante of Lloyd George was a fervent advocate of PR for the UK but Lloyd George dismissed the idea as undemocratic and a recipe for  chaos with  every crank and obsessive. 

Comments are closed.