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Irish Election Analysis
elections / politics |
Thursday February 24, 2011 19:22 by Peter Geoghegan - Bella Caledonia
Beyond the political and financial classes, Irish people’s response to the crisis has surprised many on the Left, especially in the UK. Looking to riots in Greece last year, and more tangentially, the revolts spreading like wildfire across the Middle East, why, they ask, has Ireland not been more restive? Why, with joblessness running at over 13% and 1,000 people emigrating every week, did it take two years, and the intervention of the IMF, for mass street protests to take place? Where is the anger, why has Yeats’s ‘passionate intensity’ been monopolized by Fine Gael, a party of the rural and middle classes?
“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
W.B. Yeats – The Second Coming
Growing up in Ireland in the mid-1990s, Sherriff Street, a rundown thoroughfare nestled in the heart of Dublin’s north inner city, had a reputation as one of Ireland’s toughest neighbourhoods. U2 wrote songs about the area’s putative fighting qualities; parents spoke of it sotto voce; while Dublin City Council abandoned Sherriff Street to the drug pushers and increasingly violent street gangs who insured its name remained prominent in the collective (un)conscious.
Much of Sherriff Street no longer exists. The grim flat complexes (all low rise – Dublin had strict height restrictions on city centre developments, at least until multinational banking groups ‘encouraged’ city burghers to re-think its policy on this, and much else) were leveled as part of the massive Docklands development, began around fifteen years ago.
Driving through Dublin’s Docklands on the eve of what the Irish commentariat (and others) have billed as ‘the most important election since Independence’, is a salutary experience. Sherriff Street is now a long, empty road bisecting a patchwork of half-finished flat complexes and waste ground; Lefebvrian representations of space, physical manifestations of the crony capitalism that has left Ireland decimated and in effective control of its suited and booted IMF/ECB overlords.
At the end of Sherriff Street, near the North Wall and the entrance to Dublin’s neglected Port – the docks that gave the area its name were quickly forgotten amid the rush to build luxury flats, offices and corporate headquarters – sits the biggest white elephant of them all: the Anglo-Irish headquarters. This garish half-completed shell, steel and concrete popping out at odd angles, was to be the glittering new home of the favourite financial watering hole for the Celtic Tiger’s legion of whiskey priests, the myriad property developers.