Ireland's own Enoch Powell
IRELAND HAS thrown up at last its own version of Enoch Powell-in the person of Oliver J. Flanagan, T.D. As usual, the replica is a pale tawdry imitation of the real thing.
Speaking at the General Council of Committees of Agriculture on August (jth, Mr. Flanagan said, " too much of our land has fallen into German hands . .. We have no room in this country for Nazis and we are not going to entertain them here. .. I am not half as 'much opposed to an Englishman having a holiday here as a German and the sooner we take steps to end this the better. The Land Commission should repossess the lands at present held by Germans and give it to Irishmen who are capable and prepared to work it . . . The teachings of Fintan Lalor still hold, true today-' The land of Ireland for the people of Ireland to have and to hold from God down who gave it.' This is as true today as it was then." After the meeting Mr. Flanagan was quoted as saying, " No Germans should get land in Ireland." He objected to Germans on two grounds, he said: one, because they were Nazis and, secondly, because they were alien. Asked about the use of the word" Nazi" and whether he considered all Germans as Nazis, Mr. Flanagan said, "yes." He went on to say that" the Land Commission and the Government had the responsibility to see that this land (i.e. land now held by Germans) was in the hands of Irishmen. The smallholder is the backbone of the country and these Germans are depriving small holders of the opportunity of developing agriculture in this country." (Evening Press, August 6th). Mr. Flanagan has promised to take up this issue again when the Dail reassembles.
Foreign acquisition of Irish property has been the subject of some concern in recent years-and properly so. It is intolerable that we should again have people with no stake or interest in our country direct our affairs from afar. As Mr. Flanagan rightly says, "the land of Ireland for the people of Ireland" is still an abiding principle.
However, there are quite a few foreigners, including Germans, in Ireand who have decided to make this country their home, and who have purchased land and diligently worked itto the added betterment of all. No element of foreign exploitation enters into it in their cases. Therefore a blanket condemnation of acquisition of land by Germans is just a narrowminded parochial ignorance. However, it goes beyond this when we learn that the condemnation extends only to Germans and specifically excludes English people. Then ignorance is compounded with bigotry bordering on racism. The" all Germans are Nazis " remark infuses the issue with a touch of hysterical hatred-which all adds up to a good old-fashioned fascist speech.
The reference to the small-holders is too hypocritical to be ignored. If the deputy's concern had been to increase the holdings of these farmers then his remarks would have been more appropriately directed at the very many British absentee landlords and the everincreasing numbers of native ranchers. But of course both these types are quite influential in and around Laois-Offaly and there's that top-of-the-poll position to be maintained.
In the past eighteen months O. J. Flanagan has caught public attention on three occasions: in April of last year he announced on " The Late Late Show"
that he favoured political jobbery; in Spring of this year he refused to take his party's whip on the question of salary deductions; and now, again, on the anti-Nazi trail.
The Fine Gael party made no official statement on Mr. Flanagan's T.V. remarks on political jobbery-though Garret FitzGerald and James Dillon broke the deafening silence as individuals. On the question of the pay deduction, the party meekly raised the whip for the purposes. And now the Party, in a statement on Mr. Flanagan's Nazi speech, blandly states that" there is no point in attacking people who have come in legally," and then blissfully side-steps the issue by attacking the I.R.A. arsonists. It would seem that Fine Gael simply disagree with Mr. Flanagan on the tactics of his speech and not at all on any of the principles involved. It must be pointed out however, that the party's conscience -Garret FitzGerald-was in France and the others of like mind left too timid in his absence.
The Government just about held its majority in the Senate-thanks entirely to the eleven nominations of the Taoiseach. Out of a total of 60 senate seats Fianna Fail now command 32, Fine Gael 17, Labour 5; and 6 seats go to the" non-aligned" university representatives. Since the 1967 Local Government election, in which Fine Gael did remarkably well-at the ex-' pense mainly of Fianna Fail-it had been obvious that the next senate elections would be very close. It was just a matter of who would be disposing of the Taoiseach's nominations and Jack Lynch answered that unequivocably on June 18th.
As usual it is a rather unremarkable Senate. The two virtuosos of the last session, Garret FitzGerald and Michael O'Kennedy, have moved to higher things (or is it lower?).
Ben O'Quigley-formerly Fine Gael leader in the Senate and now tragically dead-is a big loss. So too, is Jack McQuillan, who didn't run this time and the former Cathaoirleach Ciaran O'Buachalla will also be missed. Among those who won't be missed will be Eamonn Roof\ey and Donal O'Conallain.
The election of John Horgan and Mary Bourke on the Universities' Panels is an indication of the growing political awareness and influence of the younger graduates.
Horgan's political philosophy has progressed decidedly" leftwards" in the last four years-while he has succeeded in maintaining his establishment base especially in hierarchical circles.
Mary Bourke is a young T.C.D. graduate, well steeped in the Bar Library traditions. While at college she was perhaps the most outstanding orator-male or female-but of a conservative disposition. However, the fact that she can express herself coherently-will add immeasurably to the standard of Senate debate.
The Taoiseach's appointments were disappointing. With the possible exception of T.C.D. man Neville Keery-the personnel involved were of rather mediocre calibre-to say the least. Constituency considerations (such as the appointment of J. J. Brennan from Monaghan, and the defeated Dail and Senate candidate Ferrell McElgunn, of Leitrim) secured to outweigh those of merit. But then can one really trust these high-brows to toe the party line when the crunch is on?
The Labour Party did disappointingly in this election-winning far fewer seats than the Labour vote potential entitled it to. Mrs. Eileen Desmond was the only candidate to bring out the full labour vote and it was rather pathetic to watch Jimmy Dunne, recent Chairman of the I.C.T.U.being dragged up from his measly 12 votes-by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael transfers.
These results bode ill for the Labour Party-for it seems that the Fianna Fail smear campaign has succeeded in disaffecting even Labour county councillors. It seems to further emphasise the urban/rural split within the party.
Though the Fine Gael contingent in the Senate has lost the irrepressible Garret Fitzgerald to the Dail, it is compensated by the acquisition of Michael O'Higgins who was Shadow Minister for Justice until he lost his Wicklow seat in the General Election, and who will probably be appointed leader of his party in the Senate. For an academic, John Kelly did extremely well in the election. His success has met with somewhat mixed feelings within the party however, as the young tigers are somewhat distrustful of him for his apparent connivance in the Maurice O'Connell affair of last May.
Alexis Fitzgerald is, of course, of the Costello clan-being son-in-law of the former Taoiseach. He was Mr. Costello's closest confidant and advisor during the Inter-Party Government days and is no stranger to the corridors of power (or more aptly in Fine Gael environs-the corners of impotence). Alexis joins the growing band of Fine Gael dissenters-he is an anti-Sweetmanite of old-though he has a gentlemanly respect for Cosgrave.