Our turn to fight back with ‘stupid oul pen­cils’

Bray People - - OPINION - AI­DAN O’CON­NOR

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?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.