Will the real Labour Party please stand up....
The plot thickens on the Irish government-Vatican embassy issue. The last update we got told us that Fine Gael back benchers were in revolt, as were 100,000 citizens who registered their disapproval with the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs. We were also told, by means of a statement from the party whip, that the Labour Party back benchers were full square behind the decision.
However, all is not as it seems: apparently, the Labour back benchers are in revolt too, and the statement issued by the party whip came as a big surprise to them and is, we might say, not a reflection of reality, perhaps more of a socialist aspiration which, it appears, is failing to materialise. Like the Fine Gael back benchers, not in splendid isolation like their leaders, Labour back benchers are feeling the heat from the citizens.
What is most interesting is that the Labour back benchers are getting an earful at their Church gate collections. Yes, my friends, you heard correctly, a socialist political party with an anti-Catholic agenda turns up at Church gates to look for money from Catholics for their party coffers. That's Ireland for you. Personally I believe that no political party, regardless of ideology should be allowed to conduct Church gate collection, most especially when those parties, Fine Gael and Labour for example, are waging an open war with the Church. They are keen to talk about the separation of Church and state, but when it comes to the Church gate collections, well then the boundaries are ever so blurred!
But that's a separate issue. What is going on in Labour? The TDs are not happy with the impression that their leader and his minions are giving that the party is anti-Catholic (to be honest, it is more than an impression). Indeed the phrase "McCarthyite" has been used by one Labour member to describe the language being used with regard to the Catholic Church - I wouldn't disagree: Labour was proposing to screen candidates for the civil service to see if they were Catholic, and so prevent their promotion up the ranks. They are reversing on that one, it seems.
What's going to happen? Well, I suppose, socialists have the venerable tradition of staging coups and eliminating the leader - they could do that and elect a more mainstream leader who will be more open and listen to people, and who would replace the Labour ministers in the government. If the back benchers want to reverse the view that the party is solidly anti-Catholic, then they will have to do something about Gilmore and co.
Until serious action is taken, many of us will have no other choice but to take the front bench of the party as they are presenting themselves and as they act and as representing the views of the party as a whole: as people who want to eradicate Catholics from public life, and God knows what else. The way things are going, it seems as if they'll be opening gulags on deserted islands around the coast and populating them with priests and Catholic civil servants. Any chance that fear might be assuaged by a good old fashioned heave at the top?