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Freak Week

It being Friday, it might be an opportune time to review the week in Irish governance.

On Monday, a biological male who has previously called for women who disagree with him to live in fear, and to be “smashed” was invited by the Oireachtas Women’s Caucus and Women for Election to address the Dáil chamber to mark International Women’s Day. The protests of women who objected to this were ignored, and the person concerned later appeared on an Oireachtas channel. Read the – at the time of writing – six hundred and twenty-nine replies to this if you want a sense of how people felt about it:

Also on Monday, the Taoiseach and Tánaiste doubled down on the idea that children in primary schools should be taught transgenderism. They were then backed, on Thursday, by President Higgins, who once again decided that the constitutional boundaries of his office don’t apply if you’ve got something right-on to say.

We are, in the autumn, to have a referendum removing references to women in the home from the constitution. What this changes, or how it will tangibly benefit a single person, nobody can say. And yet, the NGOs have demanded it, so it will be done.

On Wednesday, the Burkes of Mayo were tossed (literally) out of court, with the state displaying all the force that it customarily only reserves for ideological opponents. Just once, you know, it would be nice to see the Gardai shoving a criminal around, rather than some religious lawyer, or an anti-lockdown protestor.

On Tuesday, the Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan, announced a plan to more than double parking charges nationally, and an eventual plan to slash speed limits on public roads. Not, you understand, because the present speed limits are unsafe, or the parking charges unprofitable: No, simply because he does not like people driving, and would like to force people out of their cars.

At some stage this week (honestly, who remembers when?) the Government announced that the evictions ban would be allowed to lapse. We then learned from the opposition that the “temporary” evictions ban, which is, remember only a few months old, is apparently all that is standing between the nation and an unprecedented tide of homelessness and misery. Nobody really believes this – at least nobody in politics. But many people certainly are pretending to believe it, in the hope that you might sincerely adopt that view yourself. What we should learn, of course, is that when the opposition calls for “temporary emergency measures”, you’d be a fool to believe them.

In New York, Minister Roderic O’Gorman was addressing a UN committee on violence against women, nothwithstanding the fact that he is personally unsure of how precisely one might describe a woman, or the fact that in several of the asylum centres his department operates, women have spoken out about living in fear of the male residents.

We were also told this week that it would be wrong to look back on the pandemic with too much hindsight. For example, in an article for the Irish Times, Ireland’s high priestess of conventional wisdom, Kathy Sheridan, noted that “hindsight had conveniently returned”. But of course, those of us who criticised pandemic measures at the time are to be written out of the approved history. This is not about hindsight, for a lot of people, but vindication. But if they want vindication, it will never be officially sanctioned.

All the while, inflation continued to rise, inward migration continued to rise, crime continued to rise, and, I suspect, public exasperation continues to rise.

I think it had something to do with Wednesday being International Women’s Day, which is to official Ireland as a full moon is to a werewolf, but this was certainly a week when establishment Ireland just let it all hang out. It feels increasingly like living through a period of religious mania: that the feeling is abroad that our world is creeping towards a firey end, and only the truly virtuous will be saved. How else to explain it?

I think there are roughly three groups of people in Ireland now: Those of you who read people like me, and who are increasingly horrified at the state of public affairs; Those people for whom all of this is indeed, a righteous movement in the direction of progressive rapture; And finally, the great majority, who just feel somewhat beaten down.

What do you even say, if you are a normal person who voted yes in 2015 and 2018 because you wanted a more tolerant and compassionate Ireland, but who thinks the transgender stuff absurd? Do you have the language left, any more, to express your opposition? I’m not sure you do. I fear it has been trained out of people.

I think as a country we’ve marinaded so long in the language of compassion and tolerance that people have learned to swallow their discomfort and just accept. They have seen, in the Burkes, the costs of rebellion. They may care, but certainly not enough to risk jobs, or social ostracisation.

They also see, in the male person addressing the Oireachtas dressed as a woman, the rewards of compliance. They have also been well trained to hear phrases like “Catholic Schools” and know that these people are the villains, and if not outright villains then at least moderately backwards in their thinking.

They went along with the lockdowns in good faith, and do not wish to think themselves fools for trusting St. Tony. They hear our President intervening in politics with a dictum of the new dogma, and they know that nobody who opposes him will ever get a hearing. Besides, they probably voted for him.

So they go on, and they keep their heads down, and they live their lives. I think, when it comes to politics, we have a psychologically abused and battered population. Talk to people in a pub, or read their facebook statuses, or speak in private, and you discover no love for this stuff. It’s a democracy in name, sure, but when all the parties agree, what benefit it a voter to speak up?

I don’t know how long this can last. I do know, though, as I often say: If you look at Ireland this week and see a madhouse run by weird quasi-religious obsessives, know that you are not alone. There are many of us out here.

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