Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: What’s wrong with Irish people who won’t say what they think?

Mattie Fox


Mattie Fox



POLL: Who are you voting for in the upcoming Presidential Election?

POLL: Who are you voting for in the upcoming Presidential Election?

The current farcical Presidential contest is a blight on respect for the office of President.
But, at least it raised a conversation that’s long overdue.

What’s wrong with Irish people who won’t say what they think?

Peter Casey, a man who doesn’t really care about political correctness, but rather says what he thinks, is being attacked on all sides for criticising Travellers.

Simply saying what he thinks.

Casey is, of course, quite right in most of what he says.

We hear politicians from all parties, carefully mirroring the new politics of fear.

Fear of saying what they really think; fear of the ballot box; fear of the party of whom they are speaking; fear of saying something that would be immediately construed as totally off the scale of ‘acceptance’.

Few in the city have any idea of what it’s like, living in rural Ireland.

Certainly in the modern world it will take intense and focused education for both the Traveller community, and the settled people to begin to understand one another.

Currently, for the number of Travellers in the country, we unfortunately have a disproportionate number causing trouble.

Many years ago, I recall Travellers who visited several times each year, when they came into our area.

My mother would ask some of them in. She’d give them tea, and whatever she had that could be rustled up to make a meal.

These were the real, honest, Travelling community, of whom some were always welcome in our house.

Nowadays there are no Travellers quite like those of long ago, that I know of.

Maybe some exist, but I genuinely don’t come across them, anywhere I frequent.

The modern day Traveller is demanding grassland for their horses when offered a house.

Where’s the balance in that? Settled people are never afforded grassland for anything.

Yet the Travellers righteously demand such treatment.

Anyone who visits Leinster House from time to time (and I do, quite often) will know some politicians, if speaking off the record, will say the most egregious things about Travellers.

But in public, they will trot out the party line, to the letter, despite most of them being from rural areas.

I guess they’ve decided that it’s better to keep the media in check by lying, rather than expose themselves to ridicule and headlines of potentially career-ending consequences, than to tell the truth as they believe it, and see it to be.

One can understand that, given the raucous outburst of ridiculous complaints that have ruled the airwaves, and the newspapers, in the aftermath of Peter Casey’s comments.

Very unstatesmanlike of Leo Varadkar to interfere in a Presidential campaign, incidentally.

Social media, on the other hand, isn’t quite so one sided. Maybe social media reflects far better, the thoughts of society than any newspaper can manage.

Isn’t something seriously wrong in our country, if people in power are now constrained to such a degree that they tell bare faced lies to all, when speaking on the record.

One would be led to believe that every politician in Leinster House supports without qualification, the cause of Travellers. Quite opposite is the case.

I began writing this on Friday, and Saturday was compelled to listen to Radio One, where the interviewer seemed very surprised that the messages arriving on his desk weren’t all too positive about the Travellers and their behaviour in rural Ireland.

There are many Travellers who don’t steal, or employ fear tactics, or cause country people to keep guns by their bedsides.
But it is at a stage where some Travellers, are guilty of awful behaviour.

There’s no getting away from that fact.