I nearly missed this, but there was a nice little story in this week’s Turbine that illustrates a thing or two about our political system.
First, I want to go back several years, when I was listening to one of our leading intellectuals giving off about the state of politics in the Banana Republic. His theme was what a scandal it was that successive governments had to keep appointing Martin Mansergh, the cleverest man in the southern political class, to the Seanad in order to give him a role in government, due to Mansergh’s perennial difficulties in getting the peasantry of South Tipperary to vote for him. The interesting thing was that our intellectual was quite clear why this was. Mansergh, he pointed out correctly, was just your man if you wanted an elegantly phrased letter written to the Irish Times, but he was as useful as a chocolate teapot if you were a pensioner looking a medical card. I agreed, but our intellectual said this as if it was a bad thing. As further proof of the Irish peasantry’s moral delinquence, he cited the way ignorant culchies kept re-electing Jackie Healy-Rae.
This came to mind when scanning the Turbine, which had a story on how An Bord Snip has affected the national road-building programme. In fact, under the new conditions of austerity no new roads are to be built in the coming year. With one exception – a lonely rural bypass. Guess whose constituency it’s in?
A spokesman for the National Roads Authority (NRA) has confirmed that contractors are on site to construct a 5km bypass in Castleisland, Co Kerry, which is expected to be completed by the first half of 2011.
It is the only new national road scheme to go to construction this year, after a government decision requiring all new projects to obtain ‘sign off’ from the Department of Finance.
By comparison, a number of other planned projects, including the upgrade of the N11 and the reconstruction of Newlands Cross on the N7 in south Dublin, have not been given the go-ahead to date by the department.
Healy-Rae, who has previously claimed credit for securing the bypass for his constituency, is one of two independent TDs still supporting Brian Cowen’s government.
Yes, Jackie the Cap does it again, and the reader may suspect that those Kerry culchies aren’t all that ignorant. Whoso findeth an independent TD with a flair for negotiation, findeth a good thing.