Manchester tragedy – Image: AP
Brian Ward gives his opinion on the rise of conservative politics after recent terror attacks, and the conservative policies of first gay upcoming Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar
I have avoided commenting on recent events, more because I have found it hard to articulate the horror that has befallen the poor people of Manchester and London.
What has happened is truly horrendous and barbaric, and I will never fully understand the grief and fear the victims and their families have been exposed to.
I have met and worked with many people from the UK, and, politics aside, we really are cousins, so their pain is shared by us Irish. There isn’t an Irish family who has not had someone move to the UK.
That said, I keep thinking: What can we actually do?
People are scared, and this has led to the rise of uber-conservative politics, and a shunning of ‘foreign-ness’, both in Europe and further afield.
But I think the answer is to do the opposite – embrace new ideas, people and cultures. This, in turn, will lead to a more enlightened outlook, and allow us to come together and work together to quash the small radicals that embark on this crusade of terror.
Looking closer to home, the international media is focusing on the first gay, interracial, immigrant Taoiseach, yet they are missing his conservative policies.
Varadkar has been compared to Thatcher, and although I disagree with this comparison (just about), I can see why it’s been made. He is a man who has benefited from a privileged upbringing and no financial woes.
He believes in privatisation and the disbanding of trade unions. He wants to ban strike action in the public sector, his reasoning for this is politically sound but constitutionally contradictive.
As a TD, he wanted to name and shame social welfare fraud, without looking at why people defraud the system. He states he values people that get up early, but what about the worker on minimum, making a four-hour commute, because they can’t afford to live within the city or even county limits?
What about the parents that never sleep, because they are terrified for the future of their children as the lay their heads down in a homeless shelter, or a hotel room built for two?
His detachment from the reality of what the average working Irish person is facing on a daily basis is worrying.
Perhaps as the leader of the country he may be more in tune with the populace, or at the very least surround himself with advisors who are.
Alas only time will tell. Hopefully, that will be a short time, not a long one.