Thursday, May 19, 2005

Conor Lenihan

As fate would have it, I was in the Dail chamber as a visitor yesterday. I listened to Joe Higgins make his points on Aer Lingus (and I second Richard's views on Higgins). Unfortunately, I had to leave just as Higgins was finished and I missed what happened next.

Should Conor Lenihan have to resign for his remark to Higgins? No, I don't think he should have to. Here's why.

I suspect we all know people like Lenihan. Occasionally witty and, just as frequently, wrong, embarrassing, or hurtful in their attempts to be witty. Such a person is an annoyance and usually not that bright. An attention seeker. This has been my impression of Lenihan since he was first elected.

Yesterday evening on the radio I heard a journalist* who helped break the Gama story say that he has heard Lenihan praising Higgins for his work on this issue. That tells me that Lenihan is favorably disposed towards Higgins's efforts on behalf of the Turkish workers and (probably) not bigoted.

What I think happened yesterday is that Lenihan simply took the bait that Joe Higgins (a much cleverer man, I believe) offered him. Higgins twice referred to the "silence of the lambs" among the Fianna Fail back-benchers over the privatization of Aer Lingus. Lenihan simply combined lamb with Turkish and came up with his kebobs quip. Doesn't seem to have been too funny, although I'm not sure how hurtful it really is. Stupid certainly seems an appropriate description.

So, I won't convict Lenihan of being a racist after one off-the-cuff moment of stupidity. However, he is an idiot and has been for quite a while. As far as I'm concerned this really says much less about Lenihan than it does about the judgment of Bertie Ahern. Why does he have such a man in the government?

Lenihan shouldn't have to resign, but Ahern should have to remove him from the cabinet because Lenihan is clearly not government material and never was.

* I cannot remember his name now, but I know when I heard it that the name was a familiar one. Sorry about that.