As my old friend RG Gregory says in a forthcoming book of his, in Greek times Tragedy recorded the consequences of “humanity’s struggle to outface the gods’. Alan Shatter has been one of the more capable ministers in the Republic’s government, although therein may lie the seeds of his own downfall.
Eoghan Harris lays out a plot line sifted out of recapitulations throughout the last two weeks:
Shattergate is best seen as a Greek tragedy which has not yet reached the point of catharsis. Alan Shatter is the brilliant but flawed protagonist who suffers from hubris. And it has the same classic structure: a prologue, three acts and an epilogue.
The prologue should have featured a Greek chorus of commentators ironically chanting the Coalition Government’s promises to be different from Fianna Fail. Alas, many in our media chorus have sworn vows of silence.
The first act featured the Minister for Justice, the Garda Commissioner, the file on Mick Wallace, the arrest of Clare Daly and abortive attempts to prevent the Public Accounts Committee hearing the explosive testimony of a brave whistleblower.
The second act began with the suspicion that the Ombudsman’s office had been bugged, the Government’s gormless attempt to put GSOC in the dock and Alan Shatter’s arrogant pre-emption of an inquiry by carrying out a “peer review” security sweep of his own.
The third act began with the transcript which Micheal Martin handed to the Taoiseach last week. Enda Kenny also pre-empted any inquiry by saying he had full confidence in the Minister for Justice. The Labour Party lined up to say the same.
In any decent democracy we would now be approaching the catharsis: the resignation, enforced or voluntary, of Alan Shatter. But in a self-fulfilling prophecy, our consensus media claims that Enda Kenny will never sack Shatter.
Spoiler alert. My plot hunch tells me we are waiting on more events. If so, we will be writing both the epilogue and Shatter’s political epitaph pretty soon. But, of course, we should have been able to write it long ago.
He’s certainly right about the importance of Greek tragedy particularly in its relation to the burgeoning of democracy. As Gregory also notes, Theatre shifted from Tragedy (which wanted the best in people) to comedy which depicted the worst).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty