Not for­get­ting Char­lie Haughey

Bray People - - News -

A COU­PLE OF back­pack­ers from Vi­enna once drank their way through my beer at a camp­fire near Ay­ers Rock, and ever since, I’ve had no great fond­ness for Aus­tria.

It was the fi­nal straw af­ter first hav­ing my bank card swal­lowed at rail­way sta­tion ATM and then be­ing over­charged at a Salzburg ho­tel while vis­it­ing that coun­try the pre­vi­ous year. It might seem harsh to judge a whole na­tion and its peo­ple on the grounds of a wonky bank ma­chine, a re­cep- tion­ist who can’t add up and two peo­ple who didn’t buy beer to re­turn the favour when we were at the shop the fol­low­ing day, but hey, this is Aus­tria we’re talk­ing about – a coun­try that’s given the world lit­tle other than over­priced ‘The Sound of Mu­sic’ tours, Arnold Schar­wzeneg­ger, and Adolf Hitler.

But if you’re of a cer­tain po­lit­i­cal per­sua­sion in this coun­try, they’ve also given us a les­son that you might take heed of, as they’ve some­how de­vi­ously man­aged to air­brush out al­most all ref­er­ence to Hitler in their own his­tory and have most of the world be­lieve he was ac­tu­ally Ger­man in­stead.

Fianna Fáil should be do­ing the same with the mem­ory of Char­lie Haughey - the man who fi­na­gled a cham­pagne life­style of Charvet shirts and a yacht and pri­vate is­land for him­self at a time when the coun­try was go­ing down the toi­let in the 1980s – in­stead of evok­ing his mem­ory, like Fi­nance Min­is­ter Brian Leni­han did in the Dáil last week.

The son of the man who was shafted by Haughey him­self just as Aras an Uachtaráin beck­oned echoed the words of the for­mer leader by starkly warn­ing that as a na­tion, we are liv­ing be­yond our means – the very words used by the bould CJ in his fa­mous ad­dress to the na­tion in 1980. You’d imag­ine that af­ter all the rev­e­la­tions at the Tribunals of the past ten years that they’d be dis­tanc­ing them­selves as far as pos­si­ble from Haughey’s legacy, but ap­par­ently that’s not the case.

We’ve al­ready had an­other echo of those trou­bled times when Gruf­falo Cowen landed him­self in hot wa­ter by telling ‘Hot Press’ mag­a­zine that he saw lit­tle wrong with young peo­ple go­ing out and and lash­ing into the drink to en­joy them­selves. It may not quite have been up to the fa­mous ‘I could in­stance a load of f**kers whose throat I’d cut and push over the near­est cliff’ that good-time Char­lie came out with when talk­ing to the same pub­li­ca­tion back in the day, but in th­ese more PC times it drew equal un­wanted at­ten­tion to the Taoiseach, and he too had to wrig­gle his not in­con­sid­er­able frame out of it. And where Char­lie used to get riled up when the more cere­bral Gar­rett Fitzger­ald took him on across the cham­ber, we now have the Gruf­falo do­ing the same when­ever Inda Kenny and the peo­ple’s choice for Fine Gael leader, Richard Bru­ton, en­ter the fray.

Still, if they’re go­ing to take in­spi­ra­tion from Haughey, we might just have in­ter­est­ing times ahead as they seek to deal with com­plaints caused by the re­ces­sion. Char­lie once came up with a sim­ple so­lu­tion when a lobby group was bad­ger­ing him for an in­crease in the widow’s pen­sion: ‘tell them to get mar­ried again,’ he ad­vised.

So... un­happy with how lit­tle you’re get­ting on the dole? Get a job. Can’t find a job? Em­i­grate. Have a job, but find­ing it dif­fi­cult to keep up the mort­gage pay­ments? Move to a smaller house. Dis­sat­si­fied with the ed­u­ca­tion cut­backs? Take your kids out of school, put them to work too, and make them pay some of the mort­gage. Kids can’t find a job? Tell them to em­i­grate. At least you’ll have a cheap hol­i­day be­cause you stay with them in­stead of hav­ing to pay for a ho­tel.

But... un­happy with the Gov­ern­ment? Tough. You voted them in. Now you’re stuck with them.

ON AN­OTHER NOTE

ON A DIF­FER­ENT note al­to­gether, we had a cer­tain amount of sym­pa­thy last week for an el­derly Ital­ian gen­tle­man whose wife set the cops on him... be­cause he had taken Vi­a­gra.

The 69-year-old woman was ap­par­ently fright­ened that the 82-year-old man was about to have a heart at­tack as he’d be­come so ex­cited af­ter swal­low­ing the pill, so the cara­binieri were called round to try calm him down. And ap­par­ently it had the de­sired ef­fect, as re­ports said the ap­petite for some loving went off him af­ter the po­lice ar­rived.

Now it just re­mains to be seen if he’s charged with at­tempted as­sault with an of­fen­sive weapon...

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