Home » OPINION: Has Taoiseach Harris got bottle?

OPINION: Has Taoiseach Harris got bottle?

by Jimmy Rhatigan

Like most new brooms Simon Harris will be hoping to impress, to make his mark and perhaps to transform the thinking of his beloved Fine Gael.

No doubt, Leo Varadkar had similar ambitions. Whether or not he achieved all he promised to put good is a moot point. Yes he did, and no he didn’t.

Naturally he had his pluses but, being human, he had a collection of minuses also.

For instance there was the wet, windy and bitterly cold winter when he opened his mouth to change feet as he said that he had no intention of writing a blank cheque to warm the homes of the elderly.

That will still be Varadkar’s legacy with many long after he rests his bones in God’s Garden.

Bad judgment or what? An own goal? Most certainly and one that no doubt will continuously come back to haunt him.

If you want to impress people or indeed show a little kindness to our grey army then you should certainly not throw a live grenade into their midst.

So if Harris is to learn anything from the former Taoiseach it is to think before you fire a shot. Doing otherwise can mean that a bullet, proverbial or otherwise can ricochet and leave one with a bloody nose, or worse.

Waxed lyrically

In this vein, and perhaps in a more civilized way, Taoiseach Harris has already waxed lyrically by announcing  an ambitious list of promises on housing, hospitals and myriad other good deeds that he will deliver on.

So will he be able to achieve what some have already described as a miracle of good deeds for our people, our less well off, our strugglers and indeed anyone who has an ache or a pain.

Only time will tell. Should he trip himself up he could pay a heavy price.  Our people are not in forgiving mood as they grapple with paying mortgages, childcare and also beat off a continuing storm of rising prices that has condemned so many families to living in pressure cookers.

Varadkar’s reign, good, bad or indifferent, depending on who you ask, had a now you see me, now you don’t ending as shortly after he returned from a pow wow with US President Joe Biden he announced that he had reached end game.

Wasted no time

He wasted no time in vacating the Taoiseach’s office and so Harris, an ambitious young man, grabbed the opportunity, expected or otherwise, with open arms.

So it was Fine Gael succeeding Fine Gael and hence the accusations have already come from the Opposition Benches, particularly Sinn Féin, Aontu and People Before Profit claiming that we are getting more of the same old.

Harris has said that he will reach out to everyone, regardless of politics. 

Should that happen then his election as Taoiseach could certainly be worthwhile particularly if he comes up with a good dollop of straight talk, action, courage and is willing to put politics to one side and concentrate his efforts on working for those he fondly calls ‘his people’.

Harris will know that his road to wherever will be a rocky one, something he found out very quickly as angry families protested outside Leinster House during his Taoiseach’s inauguration, alleging that he had time and again broken promises to them to help their ill children.

He will do well to avoid snipers. He can renew our faith in politics by tackling projects that have already been eased to one side.

I think in particular of a review of how our Government and its allies handled Covid. 

Pardon the exaggeration, but there must be a million questions to be answered. How our elderly in particular were treated during the height of Covid should certainly be put under a spotlight.

Hearts and minds

Should he succeed in spearheading a successful campaign to bring out the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth he would be well on the road to winning hearts and minds.

He might also encourage a critical look at a glaring problem that, for whatever reasons, is being brushed under a carpet.

The world and its mother knows that the death rate in Ireland spiraled during Covid and is continuing to get more frightening in the aftermath of the so-called pandemic.

An honest appraisal of what happened or indeed what is happening would be appreciated, a proper independent investigation into what is going wrong.

The elephant in the room is that the topic of ‘extra deaths’ is being ignored by our local and national media; censorship abounds as journalism, for generations a strong, unbiased and fair bastion of Irish society is now but a powder puff body of men and women who do what they are told, not what they should be doing: reporting the real news.

‘Extra deaths’

Journalists avoid the topic of ‘extra deaths’, refusing to ask the sort of questions that Fourth Estate members of other eras would have asked our politicians and medics in particular.

Should Harris succeed in setting up a proper Covid investigation and cast an x-ray eye on ‘extra deaths’ then he just may end up being remembered not just as our youngest ever Taoiseach but as our most courageous and honourable holder of the office.

It is obvious which of the latter Harris would prefer. The latter title will be hard earned.

Has he the bottle to take the cork off of what some would call hidden Ireland.

The ball is in his court. Like so many great hurlers over the years, he can choose to pull on the sliotar and score a great goal. 

But should he dither and send the ball hopelessly wide then, like Varadkar, he too could end up doing a hasty disappearing act.

We believe that even those who do not sing from a Fine Gael Hymn Sheet would probably be proud to acknowledge that at last we had discovered a political Messiah who would put our country and its people at the top of the pile and to Hell or to Connacht with those who would put their careers and their political parties before the good of a people who crave a better deal for families and the greater Irish community.

Go for it Harris, sink or swim, be your own man and do your utmost for every man, woman and child thereby making this country great again, not merely a playground for the wealthy.

God loves a trier. But He abhors chancers.

It would perhaps be a Godsend if Harris proves to buck the trend of Irish politics.

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