If you're Irish, you'll know what I'm talking about. You'll be out in the pub, or at work, or in college, and having a great laugh, talking about football or travel or whatever. Then talk will, inevitably, turn to the economy, and the usual grim tales of dole queues or emigration. And that's when one of your friends, someone you know and love (let's call him Jimmy, for arguments sake), someone who you thought you could trust with your life, will come out with one of the lines:
"Still, it has to be expected, what with the global situation."
"Well, ever since Lehman's brothers, you know, the whole world has been suffering".
"No one saw it coming".
"We're all to blame"/ "No one person is to blame".
A chill shiver will run through you. My God! you'll think, He's one of them! Jimmy, noooo! You're a ...you're a...
Yes, those little lies are always a dead give away: I mean, who really thinks we have 300,000 empty houses just because of Lehman's Brothers? Who honestly believes that we have 13.7% unemployed purely because of the global economic situation? Of course, when times were good, it was all down to the inspired leadership of El Berto and his gang; but now, it's as if the Irish government were only there for ceremonial purposes, and the real decisions are being made elsewhere. Well, thanks to FF, that vision of a powerless Ireland might soon come true (I've started practicing my German already: Ich mochte gerne ein kaise kuchen bitte)
This is not a tirade against Fianna Failers generally - listen, some of my best friends are Fianna Fail members. I even feel sorry for most FF members or supporters, who shuffle, embarassed, when you mention the economy, before they quickly change the subject. They're as much a victim as anyone; I mean after all, we all suffer from this mess, but they actually voted for it!
No, I'm terrified by the hardcore, the Fianna Failer with a capital FF. The ones who, even now, think that Biffo is the best choice for Taoiseach. I mean, seriously, 18% of us still think this dude is leadership material:
What was being smoked during that survey?
Such blind loyalty worries me, not simply because it suggests a stunning lack of imagination. It's also profoundly unpatriotic. Loving your country is like your love for your wife/husband/boyfried/girlfriend/ significant life partner/whatever. My wife, so she tells me, loves me, and I have a legal contract saying that this emotion is eternal and unending. She loves me despite the fact that I do little to no housework, and despite the fact that I sit on my ass in front of the telly/Playstation during most of my free time. Her love, unconditional though it allegedly is, doesn't mean that she doesn't want me to help clean a little, or get up and go for a quick jog round the block. She loves me that much, she wants me to improve myself - she knows what I am capable of.
And so the blind loyalty that leads a rump of FF supporters to put party ahead of nation is in direct opposition to what that party, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, is meant to stand for. FF should be the party that challenges Ireland, that looks our problems dead in the eye and says "We can beat this." FF should not be about cover-ups, it should not be about excuses - it should lead the rest of society in making the sacrifices needed for economic recovery, by cutting the wages of TDs and Senators, and culling the useless quangoes which are staffed by FF appointees.
Instead of slavishly covering for the gentleman above, perhaps we need to start looking for someone a bit more like:
Sean Lemass, one of the finest Taoisigh ever, and a man Fianna Failers (including my grandmother!) can be justly proud of.