25 February 2010 Edition
THE JULIA CARNEY COLUMN
“I write it out in a verse -
Lee and De Búrca
And O’Dea and Sargent
Now and in time to be,
Wherever republicans are smiling,
Are gone, gone utterly:
A beautiful beauty is born.”
– An excerpt from February 2010, by Julia Carney.
This poetry thing’s a piece of cake. I can’t believe they gave Heaney a Nobel for it, though even then the Brits tried to claim him, halting and inarticulate as they are in their native teanga.
That said, I am a little reluctant to celebrate Willie O’Dea’s departure if only because, well to be honest with you, I’m sort of tempted to believe him. Our moustachioed hero’s defence, you will remember, was that he’d forgotten he’d made untrue allegations against Maurice Quinlivan (who played a blinder on the media all last week, by the way) to a Limerick journalist. Many of us figured we’d remember accusing a political rival of being involved in illegal activity. It’s the sort of thing that you’d assume stands out in the memory.
But here’s the thing. Maybe the reason Willie can’t remember it is because he makes those accusations all the time. Maybe he’s a disciple of Lyndon Johnson, who became U.S. President after the CIA/Cuban exiles/gang of homosexuals/U.S. Army/mafia conspiracy (I saw JFK again recently) stiffed Kennedy in Dallas in ‘63.
Legend has it that during one of Lyndon Johnson’s first congressional campaigns, when he looked set to lose, he decided to spread a rumour that his opponent... how can I say this in a family newspaper... was physically intimate with pigs. Johnson’s campaign manager said, “Lyndon, you know he doesn’t do that!” Johnson replied, “I know. I just want to make him deny it.”
So maybe this is a thing O’Dea does. He can’t remember one dishonest accusation against a particular candidate because he makes them all the time. The day before he could have told a journalist off the record that Michael Noonan is physically intimate with pigs. He might have suggested that Fianna Fáil constituency rival Peter Power used to be a woman. He could have implied with a nod and a wink that John Gormley was a concentration camp guard or that Eamon Gilmore was once a member of a political party funded by the Soviet Union and a North Korean government sponsored counterfeiting ring.
All of these allegations are too ludicrous to be true. All of them. Especially the last one. That’s completely off the wall. But by forcing your opponent to deny them you get to repeat them. And this is the angle the Sunday Independent decided to adopt at the weekend.
Let’s refresh ourselves, by the way, with the fair and balanced approach the Sunday Independent took to covering Willie O’Dea’s appointment as minister back in 2004. Across three different articles, one headlined ‘Let Trots tremble at the little corporal’, and a column from Willie O’Dea congratulating himself, the Sindo’s hacks providing a great deal of insightful political analysis.
“Sunday Independent journalist (journalist?) Willie O’Dea was made Minister for Defence... we are glad for our colleague Willie... Nice to see that Willie O’Dea has joined the long and distinguished list of Sunday Independent journalists who have become ministers (the others are Roche and McDowell. A list neither long, nor distinguished)... He gets more first-preference votes than practically anyone in the country... he is one of the best public speakers in the Dáil... he is one of the best TV performers this government has, quick of wit and sharp of sword.”
Surely, you’re thinking to yourself, journalists and writers of the calibre of Jody Corcoran, for example, would rethink his position. Remember that in January, responding to the suggestion that a column of his before Christmas insulted women, Jody made clear where he stood.
“One of the great pleasures in life is burying your face deep in the hair of a woman as she descends an escalator in front of you... I love their bottoms, all asses, big and small and in between; I love their breasts — did I mention their breasts? — I love burying my head there too...”
Clearly a man who loves women, possibly a little too much, but love nonetheless.
But on Sunday Jody suggested that “Sinn Féin had supplied Fine Gael the bullets for a political hit” (as if those lads would know what to do with bullets). In it, he used the word ‘brothel’ 15 times. He managed to get in Jerry McCabe four times and ‘psychopathic gun nut’ twice. There’s no suggestion that Maurice Quinlivan has a connection to any of this, but as Johnson would have pointed out, it gives you an excuse to bring it up.
And so, as a hectic couple of weeks in Irish politics comes to an end, we can remember that it was only a month ago political commentators were talking about the death of Sinn Féin. Now Lee’s run away, De Búrca’s quit, O’Dea’s resigned and Sargent got caught.
Who’s bleeding now, boys and girls?