> I'm not arguing with that - I just don't think that many non-religious
> people (outside Ireland) accept the right-to-lifers' made-up stories
> about abortion traumatising women for life.
You're probably right though I've definitely heard it in a British context. Can't remember who was saying it, though.
A few years back a friend of mine thought (correctly) she was pregnant. This was in Belfast. She was directed to the offices of a group called Life who gave her a pregnancy test. When I heard the name alarm bells started ringing in my head and I insisted on accompanying her. We got there and their logo was a foetus. I tried to persuade her to not go in but she said she just wanted the test as the ones you buy in the chemis are less reliable. She said that no matter what she wouldn't listen to them. To cut a long story short, they announced the results by saying: "You'll be a wonderful monther." Anyway, there's more to the story but that's enough.
> That is definitely true. One of the things that does my head in is
> people complaining about how little the Dáil sits. That is a
> legitimate issue, of course, but they never make the connection that
> the reason the Dáil only sits three days per week and barely over half
> the weeks per year is because the voters demand that they spend most
> of their time doing constituency work. People in this country (or at
> least in this State) really haven't got their heads around the fact
> that a legislator's job is to *legislate*, not to help them get their
> drain fixed or an extension to their school.
I'm not that bothered about them not legislating given that I disgaree with the vast majority of the laws they pass - in fact, I'm in favour of less laws, not more - but you're spot on when you say people think local micro issues are what politicians are there for. Reminiscent of the Liberal Democrats in the UK in that regard.
The fairly large amount of independents in the Dáil is also instructive. What can these people offer except the promise to divert more cash to their constituencies? I'm sure they do it very successfully but it's pretty poor politics.
It's worth thinking about the endless jucicial inquiry process. Accusations of sleaze and extra-parliamentary elite activity are a poor substitute for politics.
Even the one or two 'professional' politicans that we have are unbearable. I woke up yesterday to teh dulcet tones of McDowell ranting on the radio and complaining that a recently released IRA member charged with manslaughter should have been charged with murder. I can't remember his exact words but they went far beyond reasonable comment. He said that they intimidated witnesses etc. which may well be the case but I was labouring under the illusion that you were supposed to back up comments like that with evidence, not just announce them to a pack of cut-price journalists.
Nevertheless, there seems to be no appetite at all for real politics. I think a parallel can be drawn, however tentatively, between the collapse of Fianna Fáil's popular republicanism and the collapse of socialism in Britain. In its lack of ideology and guiding principles what goes on in Westminster looks increasingly like Irish politics every day.
I was talking to someone about this the other day and he said it was due to "relative affulence" and consumerism. I don't buy that. First of all, I think it predates Ireland's affluence and, probably more importantly, I think that it reflects trends that can be seen elsewhere. Ireland may be a bit of a freakshow from time to time but it's not hermetically sealed.
I think FF's republcianism, tokenistic as it was, was a poor vehicle to begin with but now... For one reason or another I find myself talking to a lot of people who plan to vote Fine Gael or Green party. I must be the only person who think that'll be even worse.
> Erm, isn't that what I just said? :)
Yes, but I mean generally, not just here.