Healy-Rae: “…it should make decent Irish people – however innocent – cringe with refracted embarrassment.”

There’s a nicely understated piece of writing in the Irish Times this morning, by displaced northerner Donald Clark, who probably thinks about these things more than many of his neighbours.

Clark whimsically probes some of the possible reasons that may be making northerners of all stripes think twice about what we once un-self consciously called the Free State.

It starts and ends with the Healy-Raes’ use of Oireachtas resources (ie, not less than €2,600 of phone calls) to ‘help Michael, scion of the great cap dynasty, win some reality TV jamboree entitled Celebrities Go Wild. State representatives of the Bongo Bongo Islands rarely find themselves caught up in such pathetic scandals’.

And he concludes:

There are, in these times of economic meltdown, more important things to worry about than the smug noises being emitted by Rosemary and Edwin McCausland at their local golf club. But it’s hard not to care a little that so many Ulster Protestants will be eating such great helpings of I-Told-You-So pie. The antics of Healy-Rae’s supporters will only add relish to their dish.

But go and read it all

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  • pippakin

    Oh please! Its not as though the north doesn’t have its own little indiscretions and that could start at the OFDFMs door.

    The Healy Rae story, and what seems to be, the actual abuse of position is a disgrace. As for his refusal to cough up the cash because ‘the guilty party’ should pay…

    As bad as it is though its not the only abuse across the political spectrum of these islands, its just the most pathetic, beating even Iris and the toy boy.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Oh please! Its not as though the north doesn’t have its own little indiscretions…”

    Indeed not, but we haven’t just come through forty years of civil conflict based on the desire of some portions of the Northern Unionist population to govern the Twenty-Six Counties.

    Given that seemingly Northern Ireland has apparently only two constitutional options; the status quo or government from Dublin (like I said no one is suggesting the Republic should be administered by the fine folk in Stormont) then it is perfectly legitimate for Northerners to examine the ludicrous, shambolic, corrupt gobshitery that passes for government in the South and say a polite “No thank you”.

  • circles

    Well some of us have been saying no thank you to those foreign gob shites in London for years!

  • Greenflag

    The problem with stereotypes is that if you look for them in real life you will find them and they will find you . Who has’nt met the toffee nosed marble in mouth Englishman , the bling embalmed non trustworthy Greek ,the money besotted Jew, the over proud and testy Spaniard or the arrogant German who wants everyzink to be zhust like it is back in ze efficient Vaterland , and the linguistically haughty French who pretend absolutely no knowledge of English in order to make a pointless point ? And then there’s the ‘ugly American ‘ dressed in plaid pants and tam o shanter standing forever in some European Museum looking for something to eat now- possibly even one of the exhibits ?

    Asssuming that perceived national stereotypes hold true for all of one’s neighbours whether national or international is not likely to win one many friends and may indeed lead to adding to one’s notional national sterotype being added to with another ‘trait’ being added to one’s already large nation particular collection .

    It’s a stereotypical world out there . Russians will laugh heartily at ‘national stereotypes ‘ even their own at the dinner table .Sophisticated europeans or americans may be appalled at such insensitivity but even here there are rules . Russians will not countenance jokes made about parents -any parents . Guests who make disparaging remarks about their parents even those from an already much laughed at and stereotypical ‘nation’ will not receive another dinner invitation .

    For those who want to be ‘cured’ of stereotypitis I recommend an in depth reading of Matt Ridley’s ‘Genome’ the autobiography of the human species in 23 chapters.

    For those with a shorter attention span and who lack time then I recommend frequent repetition of one of American Will Roger’s famous dictums

    ‘It’s not what we don’t know that hurts , it’s what we know that ain’t so’

  • pippakin

    Its the smug, self satisfaction of it. In the UK a couple of ex MPs have recently been sent to prison for fiddling and that’s without even broaching the subject of mansions for ducks! all at the tax payers expense of course…

  • DC

    the linguistically haughty French who pretend absolutely no knowledge of English in order to make a pointless point

    I remember being at the McDonald’s in Paris on ‘av. Victor Hugo’ and this happening to me – the attendant wouldn’t serve me a Big Mac until I tried a bit of french – my Samuel L Jackson impression came out ‘Le Big Mac’.


    No need for it.

  • michael-mcivor


    some support stormont over the dublin one- strange- but look on the bright side- Sinn Fein is in both- or is that in one-

  • Greenflag

    @pippakin ,

    You may have picked up the wrong vibe from Donald Clark’s piece . I thought it was’nt bad and overall a fair enough rib on the Healy Rae incident. Clark also took aim at the Westminster lack of financial ethics and also a dig at the sometimes hypocritical Presbyterian Victorian mores across the line .

    At least he did’nt come out with all guns blazing and demand that Healy Rae should resign his seat and face charges of ‘ borrowing’ from the public purse . To be fair at least some of the higher profile errant British MP’s are in or facing jail time . I may be wrong but have we sent any Irish TD’s to jail for ‘corruption ‘ in the past couple of years?

  • pippakin


    My last comment was aimed more at the other comments on this thread than at the article, The article itself I thought was not that bad, considering where it could go. Its the way we as a race seem to cringe every time one of us gets caught with his pants around his ankles (metaphorical of course). Yes it happens here but it also happens everywhere else too, but you are unlikely to find the Brits or any other nationality donning the hair shirt enmasse.

    As to when we last jailed a politician for corruption or anything else, I’m not sure that has ever happened…

  • Greenflag

    @ pippakin,

    ‘THERE ARE times when you pray the world isn’t watching us. Last week was such an occasion.’

    No need to pray Donald – the world was’nt watching -Wimbledon and Greece being the main staples of the msm .

    Clarke’s concluding point reveals all 😉

    ‘But it’s hard not to care a little that so many Ulster Protestants will be eating such great helpings of I-Told-You-So pie.The antics of Healy-Rae’s supporters will only add relish to their dish. ‘

    Donald got that wrong -in fact it’s very easy not to care at all at all . After all there are more than enough offensive southern stereotypes of ‘northerners’ mostly unprintable (all denominations and none) to sink the Titanic if it were’nt already sunken.

    Shure we were always great at ‘slaggin ‘ on this island . It was bred into us as a survival technique in days of yore when the powers that were could hang you for stealing a loaf of bread and take your horse from you if you were a papist 😉

    Ah the good ole days -ye just can’t bate them eh ?

  • Greenflag

    @pippakin and DC ,

    Enjoy le ‘weekend’ I’m off to do some overdue peasanting amongst my compost heaps and get some needed physical exercise:)

  • Rory Carr

    “Jeez, ” writes Donald Clark, ” Who’d blame them? We’ll be eating our young next.”

    Mores the pity we might think that, in the case of the Healy-Rae dynasty, they had not already begun.

  • pippakin


    Have a good one but on your return: My point is that its not necessary to cover this subject as though we are cloaked in some sort of collective responsibility. The article goes over the usual ground in the usual way. He didn’t need to. In no way are the Irish people either side of the border responsible for the idiosyncrasies of their politicians. As Mr Clarke pointed out it happens with the British, but as I pointed out you won’t find them faffing around taking responsibility for the lapses. It also happens everywhere else including in America, where one of the most deplorable cases is the John Edwards saga.

    Perhaps it would be more constructive to wonder in print why we so often take collective responsibility for such behaviour and then stretch the idea further to wonder if perhaps that is the reason so few cases ever get to court.

  • Crow

    Nice one Mick! I believe there are also some great simian caricature over at Punch.

  • USA

    Clarke writes in the Irish Times:
    “The news comes a few weeks after the release of a fascinating poll concerning the attitudes of Northern Irish people towards a united Ireland. That survey found that some 52 per cent of Catholics in the North wanted to remain within the United Kingdom”

    There people go quoting that crap opinion poll again. In the same poll respondents said the party they would most likely vote for would be as follows:
    DUP 18%
    SDLP 17%
    UUP 16%
    SF 11%
    Alliance 10%

    When compared to the real election results this question alone indicates one of two things
    A. Lots of people were lying when answering
    B. The survey sample is not representative.

    BTW: The survey size was only around 1,205 people. No where near big enough in my opinion.

    The NILT poll is off the mark IMHO.

  • Mick Fealty



  • Mick Fealty


    A sneer is not an argument, no matter how many times you repeat it. And a survey is not a political opinion poll.

    This IS an argument: Mr Feeney on top form http://bit.ly/lzfxlX.

    I’m all for partisanship. But not to extent it requires the rest of us to patronise/indulge such serial idiocy!

  • Harry Flashman

    “In the UK a couple of ex MPs have recently been sent to prison for fiddling”

    I think the phrase “sent to prison” adequately sums up the difference and why some of us prefer the Westminster system.

    If they tried that down south occasionally we might have a little bit more respect for the gombeen men of Leinster House.

  • Republic of Connaught

    Harry Flashman,

    The gombeen men are in Leinster House and Stormont. Such is the nature of the Irish politician, perhaps.

    Finding the solutions to change that political culture in Ireland, however, is a more worthy cause for any Irishman rather than perpetually putting your faith in Englishmen to govern you.

  • Mick Fealty


    Still can’t see the racialism angle you are pointing at, other than what Cynic (now removed) Greenflag have introduced. It’s more Swift than Punch!

  • Mick Fealty


    I’m not sure your jolly fatalism is quite what Harry was hoping for! 🙂

    That last of yours though is essential work for nationalists, though not all Irishmen/women. Such convenient elisions have generally been blinding for nationalism, not just inaccurate.

    That so many refuse to put their faith in their would-be fellow citizens has been a major problem for every generation of Irish Republicans since Wexford.

    Back to the Healy-Raes.

    It’s the petty and venal nature of the offence that’s embarrassing Clark, and for him it can only confirm those already entrenched (not to mention willfully stupid) attitudes to the south by Northerners (Catholic and Protestant) generally.

  • pippakin

    Its not about what others think of us. Its we who need to stop concerning ourselves about what others think. If we could develop the hide of the Brits that would be something…

  • Mick Fealty


    That is how Clark concludes. But how can you not be concerned about perceptions if you harbour the political ambition of unifying the island?

  • pippakin

    Mick Fealty

    It depends on the subject. In some respects Ireland is already unified, there is the obvious island we share, and also religion which at first glance appears to be what separates us, but what it shows when you look more deeply is that we are a deeply religious people regardless of which church we go to.

    The problem is not that others may believe the old stereotypes its that so many of us seem to! Its something else that unifies us as a race we are only too eager to see the worst in one as the worst in all. if anything the unionists are worse than nationalists, they appear to need the ‘British’ identity to think they are not just a culture but respectable! I think unity will be a state of mind before it becomes a reality.

  • Republic of Connaught


    It isn’t just essential work for nationalists. Northern Ireland, for all the incredible arrogance of many of its citizens, exists at the whim of England and the English taxpayer. If England decides to pull the plug on NI’s existence then the six counties will become part of an all Ireland state, albeit an autonomous part. So it is indeed the responsibility of everyone on the island of Ireland to learn to improve our political system north and south so we can trust and respect our homegrown politicans. None of us know how long the English taxpayer will continue to fork out billions for the partition of Ireland if Scotland goes independent. The cry will arise loudly in England: NO WE WON’T! Once proud Ulster does not want to do a Kafkaesque metamorphosis and become a permanent leech on England’s backside, after all.

    Anyway, for all the political scandals, the vast majority of proud people on this island would rather be governed from
    Dublin, Belfast, Cork, Galway or Derry (maybe not Limerick) – every day of the week by fellow Irishmen who fvk up every so often rather than any wily Englishmen in London, or suave Frenchmen in Paris or cunning Germans in Berlin or loud Americans in Washington – whose politicians also fvk up. The national pride and desire for political self determination within one’s own country easily supercedes any petty political scandals or any idea of ‘pragmatic’ subservience to a richer neighbour. That pride is one of Ireland’s greatest virtues.

    As for some caustic attitudes in the six towards the South, I recall the words of Ghandi: “The greatest achievement of English colonialism was not politically or militarily, but psychologically”. Irishmen not fit to govern themselves, according to many in the London controlled north of Ireland? I’m sure Ghandi would smile knowingly at that.

  • Comrade Stalin

    If England decides

    There is no political entity called “England” and no government of England, so I don’t know why you think that England will decide anything.

    to pull the plug on NI’s existence

    I can’t believe that there are still people who have been ignoring what has been going on for the past 15 years. The UK (not “England”) has signed an international treaty and passed primary legislation that governs exactly how NI’s future existence will be determined. It cannot “pull the plug”.

    then the six counties will become part of an all Ireland state, albeit an autonomous part.

    Who says ? There is no agreement at all on what Irish reunification would actually look like.

  • Republic of Connaught


    If Scotland chooses independence then only one of the three historic Kingdoms that made up the United Kingdom remains – ENGLAND. The UK state that signed the GFA included Scotland and that UK won’t exist anymore. So England can’t be bound to it anymore. Agreements change with events.

    Thus England will have to decide what it will do with the Irish six counties if its citizens want an independent England with its principality, Wales. To think the English taxpayer is duty bound to pay billions yearly for the partition of Ireland post Scottish independence is nice of you. But I’ll be more interested what the English taxpayers themselves think when the time arrives.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I suppose Wales just broke off and fell in the Irish sea then. And that you somehow think that the international legal concept of a successor state will somehow not apply.

    This is all fantasy stuff. The SNP are on the horizon but I’ll take a bet with anyone that any referendum called within the next 12 months on the question of Scottish independence will led to a “no” vote. Hell, I’ll take a bet that there will be no referendum – because, as we have just seen with AV, Salmond must know that if he loses it he will kill the whole question and inflict a mortal wound on his own party.

    English taxpayers (more accurately, Southern English taxpayers) already pay a big subsidy to the rest of the UK. The cost of retaining the union hasn’t been a factor at any point since partition, I don’t see that changing.

  • Republic of Connaught


    The UK was the kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland. Have a look at the Queen’s Royal standard if you need confirmation. Without Ireland and Scotland there is no UK. There’s only a rump state remaining. Wales as a principality will always be attached to Engand because of geography. The north of Ireland is a different case entirely.

    I don’t expect to see Scottish independence before 15-20 years. But it’s coming. And with it will come big changes in Ireland. Putting your head in the sand won’t stop change. Which is why I said it’s the responsibility for us all, not just nationalists, to improve our governance across this island.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I don’t have an opinion on Scottish independence, it is a matter for Scots, and good luck to them either way. However, it is by no means clear that Scots will endorse independence from the UK and everything it entails, including the ongoing subsidy from London.

  • PaulT

    But yet Mick, today the latest on the UKs own phone scandal is

    “News of the World ‘hacked Milly Dowler phone'”

    But what editor would allow that?

    Step forward Andy Coulson, ex- SpAd to the PM no less.

    Which also begs the question, Would the bould Andy Coulson have passed Mr Wilsons new SpAd suitability test?

    Give me the Kerry comedy duo anytime

  • Barnshee

    circles (profile) says: 2 July 2011 at 12:25 pm Well some of us have been saying no thank you to those foreign gob shites in London for years!

    Well as they say loyal to the half crown but not loyal to the Crown —- note that the distaste for the ” foreign gob shites in London ” does not extend to English tax payer subvention As a SE english taxpayer the sooner you are all told to Foxtrot Oscar the better.

    PS when the shit hits the fan stay in Ireland and draw the dole /family credit there don`t add to the problems here.

  • PaulT

    Stalin & Barnshee, speaking of subsidy would either of you have an opinion of how 4m people in Ireland can produce a trade surplus of 60billion PA (in bad times) and NI loses 4billion PA (all the time) with a pop of 2m

    In direct terms to those English taxpayers that plus £20b PA from the south and minus £4b PA from the north

    So what real price is paid by NI and Scotland to be in the union?

  • Mick Fealty


    FDI and the collapse of domestic consumer spending, coupled with HMG’s historic indulgence in public spending in NI! GNP figures are thought a more reliable measure for that first reason.

    Not sure what your point about Coulson is, but I’ve a post on that unholy mess coming out shortly. Some of us take the time to *think* before we hit the keyboard!

  • Clanky

    Apologies if the point has already been made, but at work and without the time to read the entire thread. The idea that it is only unionists who will look at the shambles which passes for government in the South is ludicrous. Surely all but the most hard headed of nationalists must be looking at the mes in Dail Eireann and wondering if the dream of a united Ireland maybe shouldn’t be put on the shelf until such times as Dublin proves itself compatent to run the 26 counties.

    I have made the point on here before, everyone is looking at the demographic change in the North and assuming that the Nationalism / Unionism divide will follow religious lines, they are probably correct right up until the point where we have a referendum which could actually, realistically end up with a vote in favour of a united Ireland, I think most catholics in the north of Ireland will tell you today that of course they would vote for a united Ireland, because they know that today it is not a real possibility.

    If we are ever in the situation where the nationalists could actually “win” a referendum I think the rsult would surprise a lot of people. As a nationalist, I would certainly be amongst the no vote.

  • Republic of Connaught


    Obviously you’re currently not a nationalist if you’d vote against the unification of Ireland in favour of being governed by a neighbouring country.

    The idea that people in Dublin, Cork or Galway should build a utopian Ireland for the ‘special’ population in the north to only then do us the great honour of perhaps consenting to end the partition of Ireland sums up the truly delusional mindsets of many of the subsidy junkies in post conflict Northern Ireland.

    Voting for a united Ireland if you’re from the north isn’t voting to become part of a perfect Republic of Ireland. It’s voting for the right to build a new 32 county independent Ireland through hard work and effort which people in Belfast as much as Dublin will be responsible for through good and bad times.

    In fairness, England has around 530 MPs in Westminster and NI has 18. So it’s little wonder the idea of actually taking responsiblilty for yourselves is alien to so many NI people. And with NI being perenially one of the most heavily state subsidised regions in all of western Europe, it’s also safe to say there’s many in the South who look north and have an ironic chuckle at northerners passing lofty comment on the South, or anywhere else.

  • Clanky

    RoC, sorry for the delay in reply, still at sea and only able to log on occasionally.

    I am currently a nationalist in as much as I still believe in a united Ireland, but I am realistic enough to realise that the transition when it happens will be a difficult period.

    What passes for government in the North will be in disarray, for the new nation to stand any chance it would have to start with the South in a stable position with a stable government, the government of the South is truggling to cope with the existing problems in the South, heaping the problems not only of the North as it stands, but of the North as they would be with a unionist population who suddenly found themselves part of a country they didn’t want to be a part of would be a disaster.

    Yes of course the people of the North would have to take responsibility, not only for ourselves, but as part of the Nation of Ireland for the entire country, but in the first instance the backbone of the country in terms of governance would have to come from Dublin.

    “In fairness, England has around 530 MPs in Westminster and NI has 18. So it’s little wonder the idea of actually taking responsiblilty for yourselves is alien to so many NI people.”

    Until the adbvent of the Stormont assembly in its most recent form this was very much the case, government in the North was something which happened in London. Stormont is changing attitudes on both sides of the political divide, even some unionists appear to be happier for more devolved powers under shared control than to keep everything in London.