Notepad on Life

January 14, 2011

Michael D Higgins: the state of politics’ nation

Filed under: foreign,politics — - @ 9:14 am
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Michael D. Higgins
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One of the most interesting reads of the recent Christmas break was provided by Marie O’Halloran’s profile of Irish politician Michael D Higgins in The Irish Times.

Higgins’ view that “we have never seriously created a genuine republic” was eye-catching enough on its own and unfortunately not really expanded upon. His comments about modern political life, however, should resonate far  beyond Dublin and the Dáil.

On ‘career politicians’, who nowadays seem sadly to outnumber those who enter the game with a view to making a genuine difference:

“I don’t think you will see people spend as many decades as I did as public representatives…They have decided to give it so many years and if they are not appointed a minister…within a certain time, they are not going to hang around.”

On the way politics is delivered:

“…[there’s] a very interesting cultural feature of modern Ireland. A lot of people start by saying ‘I’m not going to delay you long’…It’s a confession of shallowness. You needn’t be long-winded if you have something to say.”

And finally, on the ghastly legacy of the soundbite generation, unfolding around us even now:

“Assertion and counter-assertion doesn’t constitute a rich political engagement. The fact of the matter is we’ve paid a very heavy price for anti-intellectualism in Irish political discourse generally…If politics is to mean anything, it should be an engagement about ideas…[instead] People are running with the crowd, to limit this and abolish that. This is done in a festival of cliches.”

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