So Dev Og wrestled with his conscience and won. What a strange and faintly nauseating sight it was , also somewhat pathetic to see his dreams of importance fade. I guess however Irish history would have been brighter had his grandad had the same degree of intestinal fortitude as he had.
On another level however it’s deeply worrying. Here is a man who, whatever one might think, at least had some courage, to say “I’m not sure”. All right he has now decided to toe the party line but we know him to be hypocritical. Clarity is good. How many other Irish messengers of the people, Teachta Dail, have deep qualms of conscience on an issue but who keep said qualms firmly out of the gaze of the very people they represent? How many troop through lobbies, baa-ing piteously about the whip system, voting in exact opposition to how they feel? How many make a cold calculation that the prospect of advancement up the greasy pole of the cursus honorium is more important than their conscience? How many are going slowly mad from the cognitive dissonance that such causes, or from the drink needed to calm the still inner voice that insists “but you don’t believe that do you..”
A very large number I would imagine.
On the flip side when was the last time a senior politician took a stand of personal principle, any principle, to his or her own detriment? Resigned because they didn’t believe in a policy? A long time ago
Proponents of the whip system suggest that freedom to vote how TDs would will would cause chaos (or at least a different flavor of what we have at present). Maybe but the reductio ad absurdum of that is to have no parliament for fear of dissenting voices and for fear of a government not getting its way on all issues no matter how trivial. It’s the same attitude that castigated the Greeks for the temerity tone publicly confused about how where and under whose whose guidance they wish to proceed.
Let’s try something: let’s have some free votes in the dail. Let’s see what TDs really believe. We might be horrified or delighted but we would at least see them as less a set of interchangeable Lego figures endlessly mutable and interchangeable and more a reflection of the protean nature of Irish society.