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Rossport Five are victims of political cowardice

Sir – With reference to comments from politicians on the release from prison of the five men from Rossport, it is clear that ability for clarity of sophisticated thought remains only with the five ordinary citizens from County Mayo who, weeks ago, largely because they were unsupported by their own government or any major political party, had to go to prison for more than three months in a dignified effort to protect their families and immediate community and in order to “shine a light where there was great darkness,” as Brendan Philbin is quoted as saying. Ultimately, they are the heroes who refuse to sell out – who cannot for their own safety sell out – and who will have performed great public service for the whole country in the absence of much brave representation. Ultimately, the noble comportment of these individuals puts to disgrace the “unholy” lack of representation by their politicians in their democracy. In their own late recognition of the bravery of these ordinary family men and the quiet honest-minded firmness of their supporters, it is the cowardice and shamefulness of pussy-footing politicians that has darkly emerged. A disgrace, indeed.The release of these five men , only after the intervention of the Norwegian Government/Statoil and the display of courage and resilience and confidence in the rightness of their actions by the plain people of the Erris area with only the support of the likes of Jerry Cowley TD, Michael Ring TD, and Joe Higgins TD, has finally, disatrously perhaps, shone a spotlight too on the cowardice of Fine Gael and Labour – made clear in the unwillingness of their leaders to take on the characteristic cultish chicanery and crooked clubbiness of the rotten core of Fianna Fail. The long-departed visionary men from Erris who used to lead Fine Gael in Mayo in the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s must be turning in their graves. It seems clear that when courage and lack of self-interest, as well as a wider world-view were urgently needed by the Rossport people, nobody much was there. None of the leadership of the political parties had the guts to stand up against the deal-making of Fianna Fáil. These are the public representatives and their parties who look to those very people for their power and their pay, not to mention the benefits attached to public representation and the respect that should command. It seems as if self-interest, cowardice, and a narrow conservative lack of daring have been the order of the day. If it was merely intellectual capacity that was lacking, Fine Gael and Labour might hope for benign forgiveness, but with Pat Rabbitte having proved himself in other instances, and Enda Kenny having come out of a tradition of proud opposition to De Valera-ism, their behaviour now may be seen, come election time, as nothing less than a cowardly disgrace. They have disgraced themselves at national and county level and, considering the worldwide reputations of the industry and the companies involved, and who surely won over the Fianna Fail Government with expedient and self-interested deals, Ireland must also be a laughing-stock now in Norway and Nigeria and farther afield for its lack of strong courageous opposition. The opposition parties will have nobody to blame but themselves come election time. Is it late now for any redemption? Enda Kenny’s schoolboyishly understated “unholy mess” and very, very late declaration that “these men never should have had to go to jail in the first place” (sic) is a pathetic contradiction of the blind and stupid earlier stance of “The law is the Law” taken by the parties afraid to rock the boat over the three months that the people were in jail, (and, for that matter, for the five years of appeal for truth-seeking before then.) Mr. Kenny’s attempt now at feigning some sort of “bienfaisance malcompris” looks like too little and too late. Nothing of bravery about that! Rather, “Nuair is crua do’n chailligh caithigh si rith!” The good people of characteristic native intelligence who have an instinct for courage in the face of danger and exploitation, those willing and those forced to see clearly where lies the common good and the truth, should never ever again be left without the powerful representation to which they should have always been entitled. And now, however, more than ever the question becomes. Who might step into the breach created by the disgrace Fine Gael and Labour have been making of themselves? And a word perhaps already too late: Will the finer minds and loftier ideals of these two parties somehow gain the foreground even now? Not if self-interest and short-termism and a narrow, narrow vision that amounts only to cowardice is to remain the status quo. Is mise, Ama Ni Chiarain, (Ama Carey-Barr),3165 Alpine Drive,Troy, MI 48084 USA

Posted Date: 
14 November 2005 - 9:12am