Political antics have become as ugly as sin these days

SAINTS and sinners dominated a week that left more losers than winners.

Political antics have become as ugly as sin these days

In a twist on the classic film, Roman Holiday, a trip to the eternal city for the beatification of two Popes reignited Enda Kenny’s love affair with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

But, once safely home, Mr Kenny joined Finance Minister Michael Noonan to worship at the altar of mammon and naked political cynicism.

They did not even bother to hide the blatant ‘bribery’ — promising tax cuts for middle-income earners in October, at the launch of the Fine Gael local election push.

However, Mr Noonan forgot the “stupid” bit when he attempted to quote Bill Clinton’s famous slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid,” and also got the year wrong, by saying the US president used the election winning phrase in ’94, rather than ’92.

Perhaps we should be worried that the finance minister is so sloppy with numbers?

But he probably thinks he has distracted us by promising marginal-rate tax adjustments in the next two Budgets, which, coincidentally, just happen to be the ones leading up to the 2016 general election. Isn’t that lovely timing?

But, of course, the Lord of Lolly Noonan giveth, and the Lord taketh away: while he is dangling ‘two bit’ tax cuts in our faces for us to do the right thing and vote Blueshirt, he is still squabbling with Labour about how deep their hands will go into our pockets when our hands reach out to turn on the taps.

In a 1980s House of Commons clash over Margaret Thatcher’s claim that her brand of conservatism mirrored true Christian values, then British Labour leader Neil Kinnock (verbally) ‘threw the bible at her’ — by quoting Matthew, 27:24: “And Pilate took water and washed his hands” — before accusing Mrs Thatcher of washing her hands of the poor. But, at least, that meant Thatcher actually thought the poor should be washed — how unlike our dear own Labour Party and the miserable “free allowance” of water they are set to give vulnerable and low-income households under the pre-privatisation scheme.

And how fitting that the voters now seem intent on subjecting Eamon Gilmore and Co to their very own form of water-boarding torture on May 23.

But not half as fitting as Labour launching its Euro and local election campaign on the first of the month — May Day — because it was impossible not to think of the old distress signal for a sinking ship: ‘May Day! May Day! May Day!’ at the event.

Mr Gilmore defended his performance with the ringing declaration: “My leadership is not up for debate; it’s not up for anything.”

Clearly, his Ireland South MEP, Phil Prendergast, would alter that to: “It’s not up TO anything”.

But, strangely, Mr Gilmore forgave her and stood by her, even campaigned for her — despite her refusal to repent what he sees as her sins and though she still thinks he is unfit for the leadership.

This makes Prendergast seem a hypocrite and Gilmore seem weak.

At least Sean Sherlock had the nerve to cut through all the bullshit and treat voters as if they had intelligence, by admitting that Prendergast no longer has any credibility as a Labour candidate. But the upshot is — if even a Labour minister thinks Prendergast is not credible, how does Mr Gilmore expect voters to take her seriously?

Mr Gilmore’s lack of strategic judgement has been thrown into sharp, unflattering light by his bizarre decision to embrace Prendergast, and then have that decision deservedly ridiculed by Mr Sherlock.

Which brings us to the sin of envy. Labour’s deadly ambitious deputy leader, Joan Burton, publicly rode to Eamon’s defence — via a drive-by endorsement of would-be assassin Phil — by declaring: “There is no leadership question.”

However, language experts pointed out that in Joan-ese this translates as: “There is no question, I want the leadership.”

Greed, misplaced forgiveness, and jealousy lead us to guilt.

For, like so many other people with a front-row seat for the economic collapse, Micheál Martin insists he is not guilty.

We know this because he told us so at his campaign launch, when he was asked what guilt he felt about his senior role in the last Fianna Fiasco government.

Though this led some present to muse in what unit guilt could be measured — would a few Hail Marys and a handful of mumbled remorsefulness equal an economic collapse? — Mr Martin was having none of it.

This is troubling as, while Kenny and Noonan prostrate themselves at the shrine of auction politics, once more, with the housing market looking set to bubble yet again, who will save us from ourselves?

Ah, yes, the financial regulator — though, after the outrage which greeted the aftermath of the Anglo trial, perhaps that would be a false idol.

But the week was dominated by the greatest sin of all — murder.

Or, as Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald called it with jaw dropping crassness — “The M-word”.

As Sinn Féiners seemed only able to refer to mother of 10, Jean McConville, being “killed”, Ms McDonald was asked if she was unable to use the term “murder”.

“I know you’re looking for the ‘M-word’. I don’t think we should play games here. Irrespective of which word was used, it doesn’t change the reality of what happened there,” the TD said.

When she stated that Ms McConville had “lost her life”, RTÉ’s Brian Dobson had to remind her: “She didn’t lose her life — her life was taken from her.”

Ms McDonald is an often excellent Dáil performer, but she has stumbled badly in her handling of the Gerry Adams arrest affair, refusing to acknowledge he could even be a suspect in Ms McConville’s disappearance — the very idea!

But, then, Ms McDonald also believes Gerry Adams was never in the IRA.

While core Sinn Féin support will not be shaken by the controversy, Ms McDonald’s inability to get a grip on it has stopped her “prawn offensive” in its tracks. She was famously filmed buying prawns in an upmarket food store to woo more women and middle-class voters. Suddenly, the southern, next-generation ‘cleanskin’ stumbles, and has now the air of ‘something of the North’ about her.

If only our politicians would embrace — in all its non-religious, secular, pluralist goodness — that other M-word: morality.

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