Senator Harris, mar dhea!


There is an old Jewish proverb that, if you live long enough, you’ll see everything. It strikes me that this applies equally well to Irish politics, and was more or less my reaction on hearing the news that former Stickie apparatchik, legendary media pundit and friend of this blog Eoghan Harris has somehow managed to wangle himself a seat in the Seanad, as one of Bertie’s eleven appointees. This appointment has caused consternation across the land, and for those readers with their mouths still hanging open, you can read detailed accounts of Eoghan’s political peregrinations from Donagh and WorldbyStorm.

As for myself, my own initial reaction was one of amusement rather than horror. Remember that this comes not so long after the elevation of Swami Bew to the British peerage – and, if you can find it, Jack Lane’s deconstruction of Bew in the April Irish Political Review is well worth a look – so Senator Eoghan has a recent precedent. And, bearing in mind that the last Phoenix was speculating on the possibility of Eoghan’s appointment to the RTÉ Authority (now that would really have set the cat amongst the pigeons) I’m more than happy to see Eoghan lending tone to the Seanad, where he can hardly do any damage to our body politic.

I should however put Eoghan on notice that this blog expects great things from him in terms of livening up the Seanad. And, truth be told, this is a much better appointment than the party placemen who usually make it into the upper house, and suggests that Bertie has a keen sense of humour not often appreciated by the public. Eoghan has in his time rubbed lots of people up the wrong way, but his intelligence is undoubted and, back in his Marxist-Leninist phase, he was noted as one of the best platform speakers in Ireland – and, what with Joe Higgins’ defeat, the Oireachtas is in dire need of decent oratory.

So the effect of Bertie’s appointments has been to, at a stroke, make the Seanad about ten times as interesting as it’s been in years. Between Harris, national treasure David Norris, and the endearingly eccentric Fiona O’Malley, the new Seanad certainly shouldn’t be lacking in entertainment value.


  1. WorldbyStorm said,

    August 5, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Yes. That’s certainly the optimistic view of the matter 😉

  2. chekov said,

    August 5, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    “his intelligence is undoubted”

    He’s got a good instinct for opportunism, and he has a certain madcap charisma, but his ego is so out of control that he genuinely lacks the ability to distinguish between reality and the stuff that would be convenient for his argument if it were true. As a result, he regularly produces the most spectacularly stupid arguments that humanity is capable of. His intelligence, at this stage, is limited to a bag of rhetorical tricks that he can deploy at will in favour of whatever he feels like.

  3. WorldbyStorm said,

    August 5, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Actually splinteredsunrise, when did you hear him, pre SF-WP or during the WP years?

  4. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 6, 2007 at 7:38 am

    I heard him during the WP years, when I was spending a fair bit of time in Dublin. I always thought he spoke well, though not quite in the Fionnbarra Ó Dochartaigh class of vituperation.

  5. WorldbyStorm said,

    August 6, 2007 at 11:55 am

    Funnily enough I’ve been talking to a WP person who saw him in action in 87/88 against SF people and was highly embarressed by his antics. I wonder which EH it will be in Seanad Éireann?

  6. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 6, 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Somebody, I think it was Merlyn Rees, used to say there were about six Paisleys and you never knew which one you’d get. I have the same feeling about Eoghan.

  7. ejh said,

    August 6, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    When I was growing up in Pinner there was a bridge over the Underground line (yes, I know) with a huge graffito saying LEAVE IT TO THE PROVOS MERLYN. It was there for years – wonder if it’s gone?

  8. Idris of Dungiven said,

    August 6, 2007 at 2:36 pm

    I dunno, in Copenhagen in 2002 I saw a HO CHI MINH graffito which must have been a left over from the old days.

  9. Ed Hayes said,

    August 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    Did anyone catch the great Senator in action at the west Belfast festival?

  10. splinteredsunrise said,

    August 9, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I didn’t bother. Although between Harris and Poots, I was sorely tempted.

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