Our turn to fight back with ‘stupid oul pencils’
WHO WOULD ever have thought we could have inflicted so much pain with a seemingly harmless weapon like a pencil? Not so long ago, Bertie wanted to get to rid of them. The rest of Europe and the world were laughing at us, he said. They were laughing at us Paddies and ‘ our stupid oul’ pencils’.
So Bertie and his inspired colleagues in Cabinet bought a whole bunch of voting machines that cost us over €50 million. The thinking was we could get all sophisticated and vote by touch of a button. An end would be put to tallies and marathon counts that stretched long into the night.
Losing your seat would be less painful; it would be over and done with in a few short hours. Thankfully, the voting machines never made their way into Irish election history. They remain an epitome of a Government that had more money than sense.
With all that has happened, the rest of the world must have thought it odd that we didn’t take to the streets in our thousands and storm the gates of Leinster House. We didn’t light fires on O’Connell Street or seek to assassinate government ministers who had inflicted so much pain on the vulnerable and the innocent. Nope, we bit our tongues and waited in the long grass. Instead, when the time was right, out we came in out droves to launch an all-out revolution, armed with our stupid oul' pencils. It would make you proud in one sense, the way we dished out such a comprehensive hiding to our political leaders.
In Ireland, we don’t half-do punishment beatings. In sporting parlance, when we went to make a tackle, we took man and ball clean out of it. Unlike our politicians, us voters don’t waffle or beat around the bush. Whatever else, the electorate can’t be accused of sending mixed or garbled messages. We told them in no uncertain terms that we had enough. It was our turn to inflict a bit of pain with our stupid oul' pencils. You have to admire the cute ones all the same; the ones who got out in time.
The likes of Dempsey and Bertie and Cowen must have breathed a sigh of relief as they watched big guns all over the country fall like rotten apples from the tree. None of it was personal, although some of those who fell might have taken it that way. It wasn’t like we hand-picked a few politicians here and there and planned a coup. In fairness, what was good for one Government candidate was good for the next. A few were spared.
They should count themselves fortunate. Winning a Dail seat for the first time is no easy task. But it’s not near as difficult as retaining it. For so many newcomers, the first lesson they’ll have to learn is that nothing should be taken for granted, least of all their membership of the Dail. Sooner than they think, we’ll be back to the polling booths again, armed with our stupid oul' pencils, fully loaded and ready to fire.
Perhaps for the first time ever, the political class will see things the right way round. We’re no longer the servants. We are the masters now, and that’s the way it should and will remain. Bit by bit, we’re changing how politics is done in this country. It may have taken a long time, but we have slowly weeded out brown envelopes from Irish politics.
The day of the stroke is also coming to an end. The parish pump no longer holds the power it did. Most importantly, the need for politicians and government to treat us all like fools is on its last legs. Last week, we didn’t shoot to kill. What we did was fire a warning shot over the heads of the political establishment, letting them know that one more false move could prove fatal.
If they’ve any sense at all, the new Dail members will take heed. Us voters are a dangerous lot when we get angry. We won’t say or do a lot for a while, but when we bite, we bite down hard. Most of all, we’re the most militarised bunch in the world. We’ve got stupid oul' pencils, thousands of ‘ em, and we know how to use them.
We have weeded out the brown envelope from Irish politics. The parish pump no longer holds the power it once did
Who would ever have thought we could have inflicted so much pain with a pencil?