Photo credit: Houses of the Oireachtas

Government just rams stuff through & expects you to accept it

“Fait accompli” is a French expression which all Irish people should learn, because it sums up much of our modern politics.

The phrase – which means “an accomplished fact” in English – is defined as “a thing that has already happened or been decided before those affected hear about it, leaving them with no option but to accept it.”

So, for example, if your child takes your bank card and buys €100 worth of takeout without asking you, that’s a fait accompli – because even if you’re fuming about the waste, the damage has been done. The money is gone, whether you’re happy about it or not, and you simply have to live with that now going forward. If you don’t like it, tough – you had better get used to it.

But what’s interesting about this is, it’s how basically every issue in Ireland is decided politically – actual reasoned debate almost never enters the equation. Rather than making actual arguments in defence of their actions, the government’s constant refrain is “Well it’s already done lads, so there’s no point crying over spilled milk.”

For example, during the current asylum seeker influx to the country, the government’s main M.O. has been to sneak large groups of asylum seekers into communities overnight (sometimes literally overnight, under cover of darkness) and not inform locals. And then when people realise what’s going on and complain, the government’s response is some variation of “Well sure look, they’re here now, they have to go somewhere, and we have international obligations, so what can we do?”

Note that this response does not contain any justification or reason as to why Ireland should take unlimited amounts of unvetted, undocumented, mostly adult male asylum seekers, many of whom are known to be illegal immigrants. That part is not explained or justified at all. The entire reply can basically be summed up as “Look lads – it’s done now, so there’s no point complaining.”

The same could be said for the idea of ditching Ireland’s military neutrality.

First, the government started by repeating over and over that Ireland was “not neutral” when it came to the war in Ukraine.

Then, after repeatedly insisting that we’re not neutral, they blanketed the country in Ukrainian flags and started sending military aid and gear to Ukraine.

We even have Irish troops training Ukrainian troops.

Last year then-Taoiseach Micheál Martin attended a dinner around a NATO summit, despite Ireland being a supposedly neutral country.

They’ve pledged for Irish troops to join a new EU military force, which will have its own land, air and naval forces.

So effectively, the policy here seems to be to chip away piece by piece at neutrality until it’s completely gone, and then if you complain and say Ireland should be neutral, they can say “Neutrality? What neutrality? It’s already out the window – we may as well drop the whole pretence.”

They’re not going to even bother making arguments to defend the idea – they’re just going to do it first, and then make the public accept it as a new, unavoidable reality after the fact.

If you even cast your mind back to the abortion issue in 2018, what was one of the main arguments that the government made for ditching the 8th Amendment?

“Well abortions are happening anyway, so sure look – we might as well legalise it at this stage.”

Of course, this is in no way a defence of abortion – you could make the same point about literally anything. “Burglary happens anyway – may as well legalise it.” It’s an insipid argument devoid of logic and sense. But that’s the argument they largely relied on to get the vote passed, because it’s one of the only arguments they know.

You hear this for all sorts of issues: “People already take drugs – may as well liberalise them,” or “We’re signed up to UN and EU climate targets, so our hands are tied on the green stuff folks.” Almost every single policy is argued on the basis that the bad thing has already happened, so you may as well just tolerate it and shut up. They take a policy that people hate, ram it through overnight, and then when you complain, well too bad – it’s already in place.

The question for a sensible government is not “Does this already happen?” but “SHOULD this happen?” And that’s a question which our politicians never seem able or willing to answer.

It’s a terrible way to run a society. No wonder people are so frustrated with these parties.



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