January 4th 08
A BLOG IS BORN.
As 2008 comes to an end scribblers and scribes, hacks and ordinary decent journalists are filling space with copious copy about the twelve months that have expired. This blog is about to follow suit. Blogging is new to me. It is an entirely foreign place. So safety first! A quick backward glance before plunging forward into space and into whatever it is that we will all face in this new year of 2009.
Bertie gets my prize for great farewells. He did it in style. No matter about the Tribunals, Bertie exited stage left via Westminster, Washington, the Boyne and eventually in an amazing piece of theatre, Government Buildings in Dublin. Rumour has it he was advised a little while before by a very senior party rep that the FF ice was wearing very thin and that maybe, just maybe, he might be pushed if he didn’t jump.
Not so much a heave as a hint of a heave. But methinks Bertie knew the game was up anyway. He didn’t need anyone to tell him. And though he resented being so advised he put it to one side for the duration of his departure and left with considerable panache and a great deal of aplomb. Long runs the fox.
Another wily and older fox bowed out also last year. Ian Paisley gave all of us a really good spin on the merry go round in last twelve months of his leadership. In my view he was genuine about his embrace of the process. I don’t mean that he was up for all the equality measures and other necessary protocols. But he was up for creating a better atmosphere and embracing powersharing and partnership between the people of this island. Eileen Paisley put it very well when she spoke at the Battle of the Boyne ceremony in County Meath. In the end it was all too much for his colleagues. So Ian went. He also did it in great style. And his loyalty to his party peers was in marked contrast to their disloyalty to him.
The Celtic Tiger went out with a whimper. Its nine lives were kaput. Not long after Brian Cowen’s arrival. Remember the scenes at Leinster House that day and throughout his constituency for days after? It was like Offaly won the All Ireland. Then the government took the summer off and the Celtic Tiger expired. And the government didn’t notice. Not for a while anyway. Why would they? Sure it wasn’t their money anyway. They were too busy not bothering to read the Lisbon Treaty.
Bertie had something which so far Brian Cowen has been denied. Bertie had luck. He was steeped in it. 2008 brought no luck whatsoever to our present Taoiseach. Will 2009 be any different? We’ll see.
As the seánfhocál says ‘It’s a very unlucky man who is unlucky all the time’.
So there you are. My first blog almost finished. But not quite.
As I sit here on the first day of this New Year, my thoughts are with the people of Gaza. The attacks on them and the people of the Palestinian territories are totally and absolutely wrong. The timing of the current Israeli offensive is as calculated as every other aspect of these operations.
It is no accident that these attacks occurred in the last weeks of the Bush presidency. The Israeli assertion that its operations are in response to Hamas’ rocket attacks is threadbare. The rocket attacks should cease. Israeli citizens, like Palestinian citizens have the right to live in peace. The rocket attacks also play into the hands of the militarists on the Israeli side.
The timing of their current offensive is directly linked, in my opinion, to Barack Obama’s move into the White House on January 20. It comes after a lengthy embargo on Gaza and the closing of border crossing. Those responsible seem to be about making sure that the ongoing crisis in the Middle East is the new US Presidents first foreign policy test.
The rest of us need to make sure, as best we can, that the international community, and that includes the White House, uses it considerable influence to bring about a lasting peace settlement. Anything less will see the continued cycle of conflict, death and destruction in that region.