I am not registered to vote in the current election, so my perspective is, perhaps, somewhat detached. But I certainly admired John Waters for deciding to run as an independent candidate for the constituency of Dun Laoghaire. John is from Roscommon but has lived for most of his adult life in the former port town.
I admire John as a true intellectual – he is interested in ideas, in intellectual concepts, and he reflects upon them. And we could do with more intellectuals in politics. Conor Cruise O’Brien, and Michael D. Higgins, both brought to the political arena that analytical quality of mind, which goes beyond the everyday business of ‘auction politics’.
John Waters is that kind of thinking person. He could talk to you all evening about G.K. Chesterton. He has a beguiling mixture of feet on the ground along with high abstract ideas. His book Give Us Back the Bad Roads (available from currachbooks.com) outlines much of what he believes has gone wrong with Ireland.
He believes that Ireland is losing its soul; that crime and corruption are corroding the public realm; that Ireland’s cultural and demographic base are being altered by the political class; that “our ‘leaders’ pander to the wishes of outsiders – the EU, the UN, fly-by-night corporations availing of our bargain basement tax rates”.
He voiced his opposition to same-sex marriage and to repealing the Eighth Amendment. He opposes what he calls “mass migration” into Ireland.
John holds what are nowadays regarded as controversial views: though it would hardly have been controversial, 20 years ago, to see marriage as being between a man and a woman, and despite legislation, it is still the standard Christian definition.
Many of his values derive, I believe, from his rootedness in Co. Roscommon, and his attachment to the decent standards of his parents. His first – hilarious – book Jiving at the Crossroads was an entertaining send-up of the pretentiousness of the prevailing culture of Dublin 4.
He also brings a diversity of ideas which isn’t always apparent in the public arena”
You don’t have to agree with everything John Waters says to feel that he is onto something about the hollowing-out of values in modern Ireland. In the rush to modernity, something is lost of remembrance of what we were, and where we came from. Globalisation has brought a certain loss of identity, and even of positive pride and dignity – why bend obsequiously to every diktat issued by the UN, Amnesty International or various ‘human rights’ NGOs?
I would, as a friend, caution John against rhetoric on ‘mass migration’. There hasn’t been ‘mass’ migration into Ireland, and most migrants I’ve encountered have been welcomed and have integrated well. With Britain leaving the EU, this may change: there may, in the future, be more immigration than is sensible for social cohesion.
But he is brave to enter the fray.
He also brings a diversity of ideas which isn’t always apparent in the public arena. I hope Dun Laoghaire shows support for his courage, patriotism and originality.
Steps in the right direction
It’s 25 years since ‘Riverdance’ burst upon our consciousness in all its glorious exuberance. I’m not a big follower of the Eurovision song contest – prefer to stick with my favourite Country and Westerns – but a friend rang me in 1994, to tell me about this amazing display of Irish dancing featuring in the RTÉ Eurovision broadcast. It was Irish, but it was modern. It was full of joie de vivre.
So, like everyone else, I rushed to see a live ‘Riverdance’ performance; it was fabulous and well deserving of the success it has since earned – over a billion euro in revenue and an international reputation.
There were critics who thought it wasn’t ‘pure’ traditional Ceili dancing, that it was too slick, too jazzed-up, too commercial. But it’s held its wide appeal over a quarter of a century and given much pleasure.
There is a gender gap!
A study by the British Council has revealed that there is a persistent ‘gender gap’ between boys and girls in language-learning.
While half of girls in Britain passed a foreign language exam at GCSE (aged around 16) only 38% of boys did so. The researchers concluded that gender is a greater predictor of success in learning languages than money, class or other educational advantages.
This is part of continuing evidence that males and females are not the same, despite current ideology that the sexes are interchangeable.
Even as infants, girls are more verbally fluent, while boys are often better at judging spatial concepts.
Equal opportunities shouldn’t mean that we deny many inherent average differences between the sexes. Equality should mean giving every individual their best chance, while recognising that aptitudes and inclinations may differ.