The latest lie they are trying to tell us is this: Luke Flanagan committed an act of vandalism in the Dáil. Now, when you and I hear the word ‘vandalism’ we think of graffiti, broken windows and burnt-out cars; damaged property, in other words. What we do not think of are the ring stains caused by a solitary glass of water on the poor, sacred wood of the Irish Republic’s government chambers.
So what did Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan do? He marched across the chamber and presented a glass of contaminated drinking water from his own constituency to Minister of State for the Environment, Fergus O’Dowd. He challenged Mr. O’Dowd – charged with toeing the government line in a debate on the incoming water charges – to drink the ‘glorified piss’. He declined and Mr. Flanagan then walked out of the chamber, his point made. This short incident, in all its parliamentary splendour, can be seen here.
Judging by their reactions, Irish politicians are not fans of show and tell.
Seán Barrett, the Dáil Ceann Comhairle (chairperson or speaker), called what Luke Flanagan did an ‘act of vandalism’. Mr. Barrett’s grasp of the English language is bewilderingly tenuous for the lofty position he holds. Ming Flanagan is not a vandal, despite the fact that he would not look out of place on a battlefield of the Early Middle Ages. His trademark beard is impressive and is the source of his tongue-in-cheek nickname – the liberal Mr. Flanagan is about as far from Flash Gordon’s nemesis as you could get.
In keeping with their astounding knack for insulting the Irish people on a weekly basis, the government, through Mr. Barrett, called an emergency meeting of the Dáil’s committee on Procedure and Privileges. It will not have escaped notice that they failed to call an emergency meeting to discuss and resolve the presence of cryptosporidium in drinking water in a certain part of the country. No, they are far more concerned with disciplining Mr. Flanagan for his ‘outrageous and unacceptable behaviour’.
They’re a sensitive lot, those TDs, to get so worked up over the word ‘piss’ and a possible water-stain.
I believe that this incident highlights (as if there were any doubt) where the priorities of the vast majority of Irish politicians lie. Rather than tackle the piss-poor drinking water with which some parts of the country are afflicted, they are far more concerned with making sure that their comfortable existence – their procedures and privileges – remain intact. The only thing they take seriously is an attempt to rattle their cage.
In my opinion, Ming Flanagan is something of a champion of the people. He is an independent TD, not beholden to any party. He is best known for campaigning to legalise marijuana. With his comfy jumper and pointy beard, he is more down to earth than just about every other politician Ireland has to offer (read: inflict upon) its people. He is the only one to fight tooth and nail for his constituency – the people who elected him to represent them – and not himself, his bank account or anything else.
He is rightfully challenging the government’s plans to introduce water charges the length and breadth of the country. That they have the audacity to do this when they can’t even guarantee uninterrupted water supply to Dublin, the nation’s capital and biggest city, shows the utter disdain with which they view their people. These shortages of course have had the added effect of hamstringing the economy with many business and restaurants unable to function properly. Ireland is indeed a third world country when it comes to water, and even more so when it comes to the calibre of its politicians.
Suffice it to say that Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan is the one flickering candle of hope in what is otherwise the dank and dreary cellar of Irish politics.
p.s. I must apologise for the overabundance of links in this post – they’re for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with Irish politics and recent events.