An evening with Fintan O’Toole

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Recently, Ireland raised another €1.5billion at bond auctions. Though there will be more of these in the coming months, we have now achieved our €20billion target. In practise, this means the national current account with have cash to pay wages and for vital services up to the middle of next year.
 
The bad news is the higher interest rate we will be paying on these bonds. While many of the factors contributing to the increases are outside our immediate control, one is. It is one we need to tackle now if we are to avoid forking out taxpayer’s money to pay unnecessarily high interest payments in the years ahead.
 
The Chief global strategist with Davy Stockbrokers made the point during the week that the incessant debate and speculation in Ireland about defaulting on debt was part of the problem.
 
Typical of this unhelpful chatter was Fine Gael’s statement issued almost on the eve of a State bond auction, suggesting not only that bond default should be examined but that Labour backed Fine Gael on this – something from which Labour has understandably distanced itself.
 
I suppose I should be cautious about chiding Fine Gael this week seeing that my criticism last week of politician’s irresponsible twittering caused the Deputy Editor of the Irish Times, one Fintan O’Toole, to unleash a swill pail of bile in my direction (Labour’s Brendan Howlin was omitted from his attack – though my column was about my agreeing with him). 
 
George Orwell called “advertising the rattling of a stick in a swill pail”, I suspect erudite metropolitan pontificators might not have access to so rustic a vessel and would have to make do with a tin can: TinCan O’Toole.
 
I don’t propose to rehearse his outburst on here – so apologies to the 900,000 Sunday Independent readers who do not read the Irish Times, suffice to say TinCan wasn’t happy with me.
 
It is not my first time being the subject of TinCan’s dinner party cynicism. Close your eyes as you read his column (which I am told is the best way to read any of his outpourings) and you can almost hear the wine glasses clink in the background as his hosts invite TinCan to regale the guests with his latest observations on that crude and ill-bred Fianna Fáil tribe.
 
This is TinCan’s stock in trade. His schtick – so to speak.  For over twenty years he has attacked and lambasted Fianna Fáil as the greatest evil in Irish society. The reason: Fianna Fáil’s pragmatism. This is the greatest crime in TinCan’s aesthete little world, as pragmatism smacks of uncultured, unsophisticated and utilitarian.
 
He is now taking his show on the road. I kid you not – this Monday night Joan Burton’s constituency Labour Party will be presenting: ‘An Evening With Fintan O’Toole’.
 
The advance publicity modestly describes the star as “one of Ireland’s foremost intellectuals”. A traveller from outer space seeing Tincan hailed as our foremost intellectual would begin to understand how the ancient Egyptians could worship an insect. TinCan may know very little but at least he knows it fluently.
 
When one thinks of intellectuals one thinks of someone like Bertram Russell. About the only thing I can imagine TinCan has in common with Russell is that neither has had an original thought since 1970, though, in fairness, Russell has an excuse for this having died that year.
 
One can only hope that his last piece of street theatre – when he so rallied the assembled dozens on Molesworth Street in May that some decided to storm the gates of Leinster House – is not a foretaste of what is to come on Monday, or An Evening with Fintan might descend into another martyrdom of St Joan.

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