Ireland Calling by John Spain
Down Mexico Way ... in Dublin
Posted on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at 02:37 PM
- Abortion reform Irish style - Women still have no rights over their own bodies, continue to travel to the UK for procedure
- We’re total abortion hypocrites - proposals for new legislation were laughable
- Catch 22 for Irish abortion law - navigating Ireland’s rigid, Catholic influence legal framework and Savita Halappanavar’s case
- The late Baroness Margaret Thatcher had her good points
- Letters from the tax man - the mounting cost of Ireland's property tax and running the country
Saludos amigos! Last weekend I was at a Mexican themed barbeque in Dublin where the hosts were serving cold Cerveza and frijoles refritos (that's beer and refried beans, senor) along with fajitas off the grill, burritos, enchiladas and tacos.
People were wearing sombreros and talking like the old Speedy Gonzales cartoons. Why?
Because those Mexican soccer hombres in South Africa stuffed the French, and as a result we now love all things south of the border.
The Mexican barbeque I was at was one of many here. Across Dublin people were having Mexican parties all over the place last week, and in the bars everyone was calling for bottles of Corona.
“Ole Mehicoooo!” they cheered. I'm not sure if that's good Spanish, but the message was clear.
Mexico are our friends for life because they did not just beat the French, they humiliated them.
It now seems likely that France won't get to the second round of the competition, no matter what happens in their game against South Africa. So we're all rooting for Mexico to win the World Cup!
After Thierry Henry's shameful handball that robbed us of a possible place in South Africa, everyone here was hoping the French would be knocked out at an embarrassingly early stage. Anyone But the French was the slogan of one paper here, which they even used in their TV ads.
It seemed to be too much to hope for, however. We had been cheated by the French, by soccer's governing body FIFA, perhaps even by fate. So hoping that the French would get what they deserve was probably a pointless dream.
But it turns out there is a God after all -- and he's a Mexican. Those cheating frogs have got what they so richly deserve. They've been beaten.
And revealing all the character they don't have, the cheese-eating surrender monkeys (as George W. Bush used to call them) have now disintegrated in disarray as a result.
At the time of writing their star striker Anelka has been sent home for swearing at the coach, the team refused to train for a day and the arguing between staff and players has developed into open warfare, to the delight of the international media.
President Nicolas Sarkozy is said to be intervening. As the French proverb has it, comme on fait son lit, on le treuve (as one makes one's bed, so one finds it). Or as my granny used to say, you've made your bed, now lie on it.
The French got to South Africa by cheating. They deserve no sympathy now. It's reassuring that sometimes the hand of fate does intervene to make sure the guilty are punished.
My soccer-mad sons were aghast that France had got away with it, that FIFA had done nothing to correct the situation. I can now look them in the eye again and tell them that cheating does not pay. If the authorities don't get you, fate will!
The other main amusement here over the past week came to us courtesy of Fine Gael, the political party that has turned shooting itself in the foot into an art form. A leadership challenge against party leader Enda Kenny by finance spokesman Richard Bruton was so mishandled that even though he had the support of 11 of the 19 frontbenchers, Bruton lost the vote at the full parliamentary party meeting.
Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! Bruton assumed that because Kenny was failing to perform in national opinion polls to the point where the last poll showed that the Labor Party was in front, all he had to do was say he was challenging and the party would gather round him in gratitude. But it's not as simple as that.
Kenny fought a brilliant rearguard action, characterizing Bruton and his supporters as the boarding school Dublin yuppie brigade who were looking down on his traditional, mainly rural backers. Someone said last week that the battle could be summed up as the cappuccino set versus the men who had their dinner in the middle of the day.
That air of presumption and condescension sank Bruton, even though it was more perceived than real. That, and a fatal lack of preparation.
It emerged eventually that the Bruton camp had not even canvassed some of the parliamentary party members, assuming that they would vote for Bruton because he was clearly a better media performer than Kenny and knew far more about the economy.
But Irish politics does not work that way. Personal contact, favors, loyalty bought and sold are what it's about. The survival of Kenny was a victory for gombeenism ... and for Fianna Fail.
As long as Kenny, who Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen treats with mild contempt, is leading the main opposition party, Fianna Fail has a hope, however faint, of winning an election in two years.
The public, including Fine Gael supporters, were appalled at the phony war. On the very day that Fine Gael was supposed to be pursuing a no confidence heave against the taoiseach in the Dail (Parliament), they were completely distracted by the division in their own party.
It was pathetic, like student politics at its worst. And this is the crowd with ambitions to lead the country!
The silly shenanigans in Fine Gael obscured a couple of far more serious matters last week. The first was the shocking revelation by the new head of Anglo Irish Bank that the state is unlikely to see much, if any, of the €22 billion euro it is pouring into the bank again. Ever.
It's money to pay back the markets for the massive loans Anglo got to lend on as finance for property deals that are now worthless. Which raises the question again of whether we should be saving this bank or letting the bond holders pay for the risk they took. Kenny isn't really up to discussing a complicated question like this, other than in pre-rehearsed soundbites. But that hardly figured in last week's debate among his party members.
Nor did the problem about the huge amount of borrowing the state is doing to keep public services going, still over €50 million a day in spite of the cutbacks.
Last week the new round of borrowing we did to finance that for another few months attracted an interest rate above 5%. That's because we're seen as a risky place by the markets, not quite Greece, but getting there unless we start to change even faster.
The other serious matter last week was the publication, after 12 years of work, of the Saville Inquiry Report on Bloody Sunday. I know that this has received extensive coverage in the Irish Voice and on IrishCentral.com so we need not try to deal with the detail of the 5,000 page report here.
But it's worth noting that what reasonable observers have said all along is what Saville found -- the people who died were completely innocent, and the soldiers who killed them were out of control. There was no plot from above, just incompetence on the ground by freaked out Paras who should never have been put into the situation in the first place.