Hurling and Gaelic football may be our dominant, most popular national games but our real national obsession seems to be objecting.
We are dedicated to delaying projects, committed to long, almost interminable planning procedures. We love getting in the way — even if there are sometimes good historical reasons for this reticence it seems that we occasionally behave irrationally.
The almost incomprehensible delays in bringing the Corrib gas ashore is a particularly drawn-out saga of one step forward, two steps backwards prevarication — especially in a country that imports 90% of its energy needs and hopes to encourage energy companies to consider exploring our national waters in the hope that they might find economy-saving deposits of oil or gas.
As a supplicant nation, at least in this regard, we seem less than welcoming and too often self-defeating.
This zeal seems to have reached a new pitch around the use of world heritage site Skellig Michael island off Kerry to film scenes for Star Wars: Episode VII, one of the world’s most popular film franchises. During filming security was very tight on the island an navy ship patrolled surrounding waters.
Birdwatch Ireland has voiced concern over the events, suggesting that their timing was especially inappropriate as this is the height of the breeding season for the island’s thousands of seabirds. Birdwatch Ireland is to raise the matter with the European Commission and said it would like to see the consultants’ report prepared ahead of filming which would have informed National Parks and Wildlife Service approval of the island’s use.
This a struggling economy and anything that might encourage growth or create even temporary work must be encouraged and embraced.
This is not to suggest that Skellig Michael and its wildlife should not be protected but it does seem that the Birdwatch Ireland objections are disproportionate and unhelpful. It would be more than unfortunate if they discouraged other film producers or investors from considering Ireland as a welcoming venue — even if we insist on protecting our wildlife and environment.