“And now it’s too late…”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Kevin Myers welcomes, sort of, a belated recognition of the value of grown-up politics.  Although, I’d like to see more evidence of that recognition

Ireland is a pioneer in a new form of IAA governance: after incurring financial losses unprecedented in world history, it is a state no one wants.

And these losses were only made possible by a compulsive infantilism that infuses and informs so much in Irish life.

No matter: the fiction of an independent nursery is now over. The governesses from Brussels and Berlin have arrived. The Irish people are in their playpen.

They can bash their rattles against the cot, but they do not decide when the lights go out or what they get for breakfast.

Readers sometimes complain about how much I go on about 1916. I agree. It was stupid for me. The witless, historically illiterate reverential jumbo-jumbo that has surrounded that event, and which – quite appallingly – has been revived by Fianna Fail, is not the underlying problem of the Republic.

It is the sheer infantilism with which the affairs of the state are managed, meaning the iron law of consequence is endlessly ignored, like children scrambling up an electricity pylon.

So 1916 is like the conch of the marooned schoolboys in William Golding’s Lord of the Flies – it is the focus of reverence in an undeveloped society, where infantilism is so commonplace that it is no longer perceived as such.

Do read the whole thing.

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  • tacapall

    “Thus, we shall forfeit the last illusions of independence: though of course, the bearded ones will regularly gather at the GPO and talk tearful gibberish about James Connolly, whose Marxist doggerel was soundly rejected by the electors of the Wood Quay Ward of Dublin Corporation, the one and only time he stood for election.

    And that fine fellow so cherished the children of Ireland that he commissioned his 14-year-old son into the Irish Citizen Army, and then gave him a gun with which to kill his fellow-Irishmen.

    Yes, with that bloodthirsty lunatic as Ictu’s hero and role-model, is it any wonder that it’s all over”

    – Kevin Myers


    Kevin Myers: Irish who served in the Second World War deserve respect — with or without a poppy

    “This was what caused so many Irishmen and women to offer their services to the Allied cause, and some 10,000 to die: to put it in psychiatric terms, that the government of mankind would look to the super-ego for inspiration, and not the id.

    Yes, some Irish served because they were professionals in the British services: but most chose to enlist once war had begun. Such heroic decency deserves enduring respect, with or without a poppy”.

    Says it all really about Kevin Myers.

  • Cahir O’Doherty

    What a buck stupid, bitter and schadenfreude filled article.

    The lack of evidence to back up his grand sweeping claim of ‘Ireland is the only country in Europe that produces large numbers of school-leavers functionally illiterate in two languages’ is astounding. Yet his use of examples to illustrate is arguments is even more shocking, harking back to events thirty or a hundred years ago. Does he not realise that times change, that the rejection of Connolly’s Marxism was by people who are now dead, in a part of the world (British Ireland) that no longer exists? His comparison of Irish language to the bank guarantee is sloppy to say the least..how do you even begin to compare two things so unlike each other!?

    This phrase sums up the total and utter idiocy of this article: ‘The failure to behave like an adult nation meant the country never tried to build an army, or air force or navy – the true and defining hallmarks of sovereignty.’ There is so much wrong with that sentence I find it difficult to know where to begin..Switzerland, Sweden, some central American states, Monaco, Lichtenstein and other micro-nations would be interested to hear that sovereignty has nothing to do with the legitimate right to rule given by the people, but actually lies in the ability to buy a few tanks, a couple of jets and a destroyer.

    In summary..that article is a buck stupid.

  • Hopping The Border

    Once again, Myers’ barely concealed contempt for the Republic of Ireland and it would seem all things Irish is evident.

    These few paragraphs are indicative of his standard of journalism –

    “More important and shocking than the Budget was the revelation that English literacy standards in Ireland are dropping: thus the reward of 15 years of the Celtic Tiger.
    One could probably find greater levels of literacy in English amongst school-leavers in Hamburg and Copenhagen than in Moyross in Limerick and Darndale in Dublin, though the latter estates, of course, have had the splendours of a thousand hours of tuition in Irish.
    Ireland is the only country in Europe that produces large numbers of school-leavers functionally illiterate in two languages.”

    So Myers makes three points here:

    (1) Literacy levels are dropping (yet no mention of from where, by how much or to where)

    (2) Comparing the literacy levels of two of the most deprived inner city areas of the Republic with entire European cities is an effective and realistic comparison.

    (3) Ireland produces large numbers of school leavers functionally illiterate in two languages. (No source, no justification, no specific figures.)

    Myers is and always has been a tabloid journalist stuck in the broadsheets, portraying narrow-minded, inherently prejudiced commentary as uber-intellectualised opinion that all “right-thinking people” should possess.

    A comparison with the emperor’s new clothes fable isn’t a million miles away.

    For you to treat such rubbish as “journalism” Pete speaks volumes as to your journalistic judgement.

  • Pete Baker


    Try to play the ball.

    It’s an op-ed – a polemic. It doesn’t claim to be anything else.

    You are free to disagree with the opinion given, but keep it civil.

    And on declining literacy levels, you should read here

    There has been a significant decline in literacy standards among Irish 15-year-olds over the past ten years, according to a highly regarded international education survey.

    The OECD’s latest PISA study ranked the reading ability of Irish 15-year-olds in 17th place out of 39 countries, compared to 5th place in 2000.

    And read here.

    Or just peruse Slugger’s comment zone…

  • tacapall

    Pete having read the whole article, while the man is correct about the falling literacy standards among some 15 year old Irish school children the rest of the article is just an anti Irish rant.

  • Alias

    “It is the sheer infantilism with which the affairs of the state are managed, meaning the iron law of consequence is endlessly ignored, like children scrambling up an electricity pylon.”

    That is an excellent pithy obituary for sovereign for Ireland, or inscription on its grave stone.

    Even now as they suffer the ignominy to becoming the first member state to be ruled directly by the EU, we see the infantile Irish deny the reality of their fate, wrapping their selves in the comfort blanket that everything will be resolved on their terms and for their benefit…

    They prided themselves on being pragmatic but never seemed to notice that they defined the term in practice as lacking conviction, certainty, principle, a sense of reality, or any functional understanding of the economic and political first principles.

    For example, they still seem to think that they can default of their debts or refuse to bail-out the eurosystem as if this only involves abrogating contractual or treaty law but don’t seem to understand that it is impossible under constitutional law and, hence, cannot be done at all. Yet this is the infantile illusion they use to reassure themselves that guarantees are just meaningless expediencies can be revoked if they are ever likely to be called upon.

    And besides, doesn’t everybody love the Irish, so how could those others to whom they transferred their sovereignty put their own interests before theirs?

    So ‘meaningless words’ in the Maastricht Treaty such as “Member States shall conduct their economic policies with a view to contributing to the achievement of the objectives of the [EU]” or “Member States shall regard their economic policies as a matter of common” can all be ignored and thereby never acted upon by the State in determining its economic policy or which monetary policy and macroeconomic policy is an integral part if that would mean bailing-out the eurosystem…

    Not quite, since the infants didn’t read the Maastricht Treaty before they ratified and made it apart of the Irish Constitution, giving its provisions, objectives, policies, and aims supremacy over their own constitution:

    “No provision of this Constitution invalidates laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the State which are necessitated by the obligations of membership of the European Union or of the Communities, or prevents laws enacted, acts done or measures adopted by the European Union or by the Communities or by institutions thereof, or by bodies competent under the Treaties establishing the Communities, from having the force of law in the State.

    That is a declaration of supremacy of the obligations set out in the Maastricht Treaty over the laws and government of this state. Therefore, the State must abide by what is declared in that treaty and must abide by the decisions and policies of its institutions or lese it would be acting unconstitutionally and the State’s laws, decisions, and policies that conflict with the former would have no legal effect in this State.

    So the infants gave their own sovereignty away, and instructed the State to place the interests of the EU before their redundant national interest. Hence, they sacrificed themselves to bail-out the EU, making it a constitutionally binding obligation on their government to do as the EU instructs them to do in accordance with the common good of the EU. And now, of course, they’re crying about it in the nursery but are powerless to do anything about it within the confines of the constitutional arrangement they entered into.

    RIP sovereign, independant Republic.

  • pippakin

    Thanks to ‘prudent’ Gordon the UK is in considerable difficulty Mr Myers did not blame that difficulty on infancy or even adolescence, which leads me to assume he is or appears to be biased.

    A gombeen government misled by gombeen bankers is not the fault of the Irish people. The only crime the Irish can be charged with is believing their politicians!

    I would just like to point out that we, so far, are treating the crisis with a great deal more ‘maturity’ than the Greeks, the Portuguese and even, dare I say it, the British..

  • SF’s Pearse Doherty appears to be from the James Connolly school of republican socialism. Perhaps RTE will give Pearse and Kevin a platform ..

  • Nunoftheabove


    What’s your evidence for saying that the Irish are treating the issues in front of them with more ‘maturity’ than the British are ?


    I can only conclude that you don’t know a great deal about James Connolly or perhaps socialism more generally in that case. I wouldn’t accuse Mr Doherty of not understanding Connolly. I see no evidence that he or his party has any meaningful commitment to his ideals though.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Their research says changes in the school-going population may have had some influence.

    There are more migrant children, fewer early school leavers and a greater inclusion of students with Special Education Needs.

    But both groups say these and other factors cannot account fully for such dramatic change.’

    Ok so they can’t account fully but how much of the drop do they actually account for ? Surely the researchers can research that ? Somehow the interest may not have been there . These people give ‘scientific ‘ research a bad name . Myers has now descended to tabloid journalism which is a shame as sometimes he can actually see past his nose .

    I’ve another theory as to why these 15 year olds have slipped behind in literacy standards . They were all too busy making money during the boom and probably investing in the property market or allied sectors .

    So the researchers can’t say fully what accounts for the drop

  • pippakin


    I think the fact that there have been no riots or even major protests is the main indicator I have been using. Not to say it won’t happen, but it aint happened yet.

  • qwerty12345

    “The failure to behave like an adult nation meant the country never tried to build an army, or air force or navy – the true and defining hallmarks of sovereignty”

    Such nonsense doesnt even merit any real response. [edited moderator]

  • Nunoftheabove


    I’m not sure that this can – or should – be read as a differential in maturity terms. Some might argue that it was more a reading on a continuum midway between fatalism and passivity on one end and righteous anger and activism on the other. I know which end I incline towards.

    If the southerners had any self-respect left they’d long since have ploughed salt into the soil on which the Dail used to stand, having burnt the dump to the ground months ago.

  • pippakin


    Rubbish. call me hypersensitive but I’m getting the impression of a strong dislike of the Irish government, if not the Irish people! The Irish are not rioting in the streets, they are patently waiting to see what alternatives are offered by the opposition and will vote accordingly.

    Governments have failed before, they will do so, unfortunately, again. It is up to the people to make the right choice to correct the errors of the past, that will be the ultimate ‘judge’ of the maturity of the people,

  • Nunoftheabove, Connolly presented himself as an amalgam of Socialist, Nationalist and Catholic:

    “As a Socialist I am prepared to do all one man can do to achieve for our motherland her rightful heritage – independence; but if you ask me to abate one jot or tittle of the claims of social justice, in order to conciliate the privileged classes, then I must decline.

    Such action would be neither honourable nor feasible. Let us never forget that he never reaches Heaven who marches thither in the company of the Devil. Let us openly proclaim our faith: the logic of events is with us: Shan Van Vocht, January 1897

    Doherty’s ‘united socialist Ireland‘ [youtube] and his acknowledgment of the influence of Peadar O’Donnell don’t seem so very different from the Connolly vision.

  • KM: “The witless, historically illiterate reverential jumbo-jumbo that has surrounded that [1916] event, and which – quite appallingly – has been revived by Fianna Fail”

    Surely he doesn’t mean FF’s Martin Mansergh: “Last year, the Irish government announced a full-scale plan for a restoration of the site of the battle of the Boyne. What Ireland North and South needs to foster is mutual respect and understanding for historical events.

    Because memory and attachments cannot be suppressed, and will not be ignored or be immune to abuse, it is better in many cases for the state to take on its responsibility of honouring them with dignity.”

  • “the sheer infantilism with which the affairs of the state are managed”

    Much of that management is in the hands of Ireland’s top Civil Servants, a select group of gifted and highly educated individuals.

  • Damian O’Loan

    What is ‘economic sovereignty?’

    When did Ireland have this ‘economic sovereignty’?

    Which other nations have ‘economic sovereignty’?

  • aquifer

    You can only have so much economic sovereignty as you have good sense and talent in the right jobs.

  • gréagóir o frainclín

    Myers is rather obnoxious, he’s an uber right winger …… but sometimes he says things about ourselves as a nation and people that are very true! The truth hurts!

  • Alias

    What is ‘economic sovereignty?’

    When did Ireland have this ‘economic sovereignty’?

    Which other nations have ‘economic sovereignty’?

    These questions are a good example of the type of national infantilism that Kevin Myers is referring to.

    It’s a bit like a lunatic in a straightjacket asking itself “What is freedom? When was I ever free? Which other men are truly free?”

    Meanwhile, the lunatic is locked up in a padded cell while others who haven’t surrendered their sovereignty, or had it removed from them, are free to make their own decisions about where they go and when…

  • Alias

    For those in need of it, there is a good textbook example of what economic sovereignty means and what it means to derogate that economic sovereignty to third parties.

    Irish people have had 186 billion euros added to their sovereign debt without their knowledge or consent because they gave the sovereignty to the ECB to increase their sovereign debt without their consent. Indeed, they also gave away the right to oppose this increase in their sovereign debt or to demand that a limit be imposed on it.

    They gave this economic sovereignty away in the Maastricht Treaty, wherein they allowed the ECB to have 100% executive control of the Irish Central Bank to promote the EU’s interests and wherein they also accepted 100% liability for how the ECB exercised that executive control.

    That is an extra 186 billion euros that Irish workers will have to pay via taxation for money that was used to bail-out eurosystem banks, and was not in any way used to promote their national interest.

    Because they gave that economic sovereignty away, Irish workers were not consulted about whether or not they wanted to donate a large chunk of their incomes for the remainder of their lives to bailing-out wealthy eurosystem bondholders or whether they would prefer to retain their working incomes for a more worthwhile purpose.

    Had they not been foolish enough to derogate their economic sovereignty to third parties then those third parties would not have been in a legal position to transfer 186 billion worth of eurosystem debt from bondholders to ordinary workers.

    Article 109:
    “The national central banks are an integral part of the ESCB and shall act in accordance with the guidelines and instructions of the ECB.”

    Article 130:
    “…neither the European Central Bank, nor a national central bank, nor any member of their decision-making bodies shall seek or take instructions from Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, from any government of a Member State or from any other body. The Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies and the governments of the Member States undertake to respect this principle and not to seek to influence the members of the decision-making bodies of the European Central Bank or of the national central banks in the performance of their tasks.”

    Article 282.1:
    “The ESCB shall be governed by the decision-making bodies of the European Central Bank. The primary objective of the ESCB shall be to maintain price stability. Without prejudice to that objective, it shall support the general economic policies in the Union in order to contribute to the achievement of the latter’s objectives.”

  • aquifer

    Devalera as big daddy, then we have our brothers and sisters ripping up the town and blowing the inheritance.

    Myers is too close for comfort.

  • Nunoftheabove


    Like I say, it’s easy to pose as a Connollyite but you’re prepared to take Doherty’s affectionate nod to O’Donnell as evidence of his Connolly credentials. Whatever about his own personal beliefs and his possibly admirable and impressive personal interest in Connolly and O’Donnell’s life, deeds and politics (to me they’re essential to an understanding of Irish history and politics whether you accept their ideology or not), those politics aren’t those of the party Mr Doherty’s a representative of. I wouldn’t foresee any possible grounds for contesting that proposition but feel free to have a go.

  • Damian O’Loan

    “Meanwhile, the lunatic is locked up in a padded cell while others who haven’t surrendered their sovereignty, or had it removed from them, are free to make their own decisions about where they go and when…”

    Who are these others?

    Your nationalism is what strikes me as reflective of one living in a padded cell, cut off from the reality that there is no such thing as economic sovereignty and there never has been.

    When 10m British people owe the state¨£50k each (£500bn) and few if any can pay it off, that nation will have less than no control over its destiny. But it can’t say no to the situation. Where’s the sovereignty there?

    And tell me, who’s buying the UK bonds to keep it afloat?

  • Nunoftheabove, it must be rather difficult to pose as a socialist and a Connollyite. Connolly looks like a manifestation of Cross and Passion College in Ballycastle, a Catholic comprehensive – Connolly be a Catholic socialist.

  • Nunoftheabove


    As I say, you would really need some understanding of Connolly to comment with any authority on whether Mr Doherty’s politics – or anyone else’s – resembles it. It’s pretty obvious that you have no such understanding and/or are entirely unfamiliar with Mr Doherty’s party’s politics too.

  • Nunoftheabove, I can read what Connolly has said about himself – Socialist, Nationalist and Catholic amalgam – and fellow socialists like William Walker – Socialist, Unionist and Protestant amalgam. It’s mostly very bitter bigoted stuff.

  • Nunoftheabove


    I won’t have Connolly spoken about like that – chapter and verse on the bitter bigoted stuff if you please.

  • “Here, in Ireland, the word Protestant is almost a convertible term with Toryism, lickspittle loyalty, servile worship of aristocracy and hatred of all that savours of genuine political independence on the part of the “lower classes”.

    And in the same manner, Catholicism … in Ireland is almost synonymous with rebellious tendencies, zeal for democracy, and intense feelings of solidarity with all strivings upward of those who toil.” … Connolly “Catholicism, Protestantism and Politics, 1913”

    It seems to me me that Walker, a Protestant and Unionist, was just as much a socialist as Connolly, a Catholic and Nationalist. Catholicism is probably the least democratic Christian denomination. Liberal Unionists in the 1892 Ulster Unionist Convention, having moved away from the embraces of an Episcopalian ascendancy, opposed the likelihood of a Catholic ascendancy.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin ,

    ‘Catholicism is probably the least democratic Christian denomination’

    Probably ? I’d have said certainly. Among the larger denominations anyway . It is as much of a democratic institution as the British Royal Family .

    And they did’nt like ‘socialism’ either.

    In ROI if not in NI , ‘Protestant ‘ now means somebody you would trust more than you would a catholic priest or bishop or cardinal , or an FF politician, or any politician or a banker or a property developer.

    It might even become fashionable and trendy again .

  • Nunoftheabove


    Again, you’re just being very shallow in your analysis I’m afraid – Connolly’s comment on the position of the Protestant aristocracy in Irish society at the time are plainly class-based.

    I don’t disagree about catholicism but then again all christianity’s essentially dangerous sinister nonsense. No genuine believing socialist can believe in it and nor should anyone who considers themselves rational, whether they’re socialist or not.

    Trendy prods ? Most aamusing.. in a sort of Partridge-esque way ;-0

  • Nunoftheabove, Connolly, in that piece, doesn’t distinguish between the different types of Protestant. I recall another comment where he referred to Unionism as just another form of Toryism. If you look at the record for the 1892 Ulster Unionist Convention you’ll find Conservatives, Liberals and tenant farmers amongst a very motley crew.

    You’re ‘dangerous sinister nonsense’ remark is amusing in the context of that grand armchair and militant socialist ‘revolution’ of 1968, the one that was going to sweep away the conservative establishments in Belfast and Dublin. Are you also going to claim that the God-fearing Connolly wasn’t a ‘genuine believing socialist’? 😉

  • Greenflag, the word Protestant seems to have its roots in “statement of disapproval” and “expressing of dissent from, or rejection of, prevailing mores”. Little wonder there are so strands of dissent; you couldn’t expect them to speak well of one another 🙂

  • Nunoftheabove


    Surely you’re the one who’s projecting bigotry onto Connolly in using the terms protestant and unionism interchangeably ? At the time, Unionism was represented by a very largely tory class and party and very largely this continued after the creation of the northern state and for many decades thereafter – I don’t think’s reasonably disputable. There is no escaping the servility of an element of the northern unionist working class – the alienation and disenfranchisement of the loyalist working class which derived from this is talked about and experienced even yet (the PUP analysis would support this, for example) so Connolly’s message on that still holds validity.

    Not sure why there’s any connection between commonsense dismissal of the ideas of deism and 1968 (or socialism, come to think of it), I’d doubt that you can understand or articulate any meaningful connection either, by the looks of it.

  • Nunoftheabove, I hoped you would understand my use of the word amalgam – a mixture of elements 😉 Projection wasn’t necessary; I used his own words. Connolly threw in his lot with those who went on to form a Catholic state for a Catholic people, led by a mainly tory class.

    If you want to see the connection between Connolly socialism, armchair and militant, and 1968 you can browse the webpages of the Irish Democrat. Mind you, you’re unlikely to find any remorse for socialism’s confrontational street politics; confrontation which set the mobs at each other’s throats and led to so many deaths and so much destruction. Why did those socialists display so little dog-wit?

  • Greenflag


    ‘ the word Protestant seems to have its roots in “statement of disapproval”

    In which case we are all ‘protestants ‘ now even those of of us who are ‘atheists ‘ . Of course when everybody is protestant or when everybody is catholic or jewish or muslim then the ‘fallacy of composition rule clicks in i.e in it’s religious expression ‘when everybody is a protestant nobody is a protestant ‘ or as the frequent flyer with a million miles pointed out when he could’nt use his miles for a particular flight ‘When everybody is a preferred customer nobody is a preferred customer ‘

    The application of this unerring principle to the fields of religion and politics and the human economic pyramid explains why the 1% of wealthiest Americans will get a tax reduction in Mr Obama’s tax bill and why the 1% poorest Americans will get to pay more tax as a result of the same bill.

    Or as the man from Galilee saith when he joined the money lenders in the Temple fot a crash course on becoming rich overnight via hedge funding and derivatives trading ,

    ‘To them that hath shall be given and to them that hath not even that which they haven’t got -will be taken from then ‘

    And as for the meek and the poor ? ‘ Kill the b******s ‘

    As per the First Book of Wall Street in that letter to the former middle classes of the USA and the western world 🙁