Has Ireland reached the nadir of political life and culture?
The Fianna Fail Party’s director of elections and spokesperson on Justice and Equality, Niall Collins, was on Irish radio (SpiritFM) this morning in discussion with Petra Conroy, who was representing the case for the defence of marriage. The case will go to judgement of the people in tomorrow’s referendum on same-sex unions – deciding whether they may be recognised as identical with the union of a man and a woman or not.
Collins, unable to deal with the arguments Conroy was presenting to him began to get offensive. Conroy had to take time out from the arguments to establish whether or not he was discussing the issue or attacking her personally. It ended up that he was.
Conroy: Niall can I ask you a question? You’ve mentioned “nonsense”, you have mentioned “lies”, you mentioned “disingenuousness”. Can I ask you do you think that I, everything that I am saying…?
Collins: No, the campaign you are associated with.
Conroy: I’m part of that campaign.
Collins: yeah you’re part of a campaign that is a big lie.
Conroy: Do you think what I have said today, the case I have outlined, is just lies to cover a desire to treat gay people as unequal.
Collins: Yes I do.
Conroy: So you think I’m lying and misleading, in order to cover… That’s something, that really is something! Actually I don’t normally ask this but I really hope that you take that back.
Collins: What I have said is that the no campaign is a big lie, and it is, and you’re associated with the No campaign.
The implications of Collins’ remarks are clear. He is his Party’s shadow Minister for Justice and Equality.
For decades, for most of the last century in fact, Fianna Fail was the largest political party in the Republic of Ireland, and was the party in power for most of that time. Post financial meltdown, into which it stupidly shepherded the country, it no longer is. It still aspires to greatness but with this kind of material at its heart there is little sign that this will be anytime soon.