Standing in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday morning, Minister for Arts and Culture, Josepha Madigan, led one minute’s silence to show, “our abhorrence of and rejection of,” all forms of racism.
Nothing wrong with that, you might say, except Josepha Madigan is on record for aggressively and successfully forcing through a campaign to block the council from purchasing a piece of land near her affluent Mount Merrion neighbourhood to build a desperately needed site for Travellers, with money that had been allocated several times and never used.
Madigan is on record as saying, “I am not anti-anybody. Why not sell that land worth €7m or €8m and house 60 families?” Again, nothing wrong that, you might say, but when Madigan was asked if she would allow 60 families that happened to be Traveller families move onto the Mount Merrion site, this was Madigan’s on-the-record reply: “No, no. My point is…I am talking about selling the site.”
Less than a year later, eleven Travellers, including five children under 10, and an unborn baby, were burned to death on a Carrickmines halting site that was supposed to be temporary while the council sought out a more suitable site, not unlike the one in Mount Merrion.
Many claim it was gross negligence manslaughter. Two months after those deaths, “steely and unrepentant,” Madigan told the Irish Independent that she had no regrets and and she doubled down on her position on the Travelling community, stating, “Some people are of the opinion that there might be more crime, that there might be anti-social behaviour.” Can you imagine she said that about our black community, or any other community in this country?
Standing in silence, knowing the cameras were rolling, is all that matters to Madigan and her cohorts. They stood for 31 seconds. It wasn’t even worth the full minute. The photo op was done. In the bag. Why waste the rest of the time. After all, there was probably another photo op to get to across town. Perhaps it was a photo op for the family of the young man many claim was murdered by Irish police in a holding cell. The photo op for Terence Wheelock. The photo op that nobody turned up for. Virtue-signalling poison dressed up as heroism is our new normal.
If George Floyd had been an Irish Traveller, would Minister Madigan have called for a minute’s silence for him in the Irish Parliament? Would she even have allowed him into her neighbourhood?
Terry McMahon is a writer, actor and filmmaker.