So what do you think of the Phil Hogan thing?” I must have been asked this question 100 times since the Golfgate saga became the only topic of conversation in Ireland. And quite the divisive issue it has become too. My response: “Torn, very torn.” Generally, this response has been deemed insufficient and conversations have followed, most of which have left me even more torn. I have been asked if I, personally, had broken the rules at any point since last March or had I always been completely “rigorous in my adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines”. A failure in this regard is, after all, how Big Phil described his actions.
I have been in places where I felt COVID-19 restrictions were not being followed to the letter of the law and I said little if anything about it. I have commiserated with publicans and others on their inability to open their businesses. In effect, questioning the logic of some restrictions – a type of mental disregard for the guidelines.
And, yes, I have been shouted at twice for entering a shop without my mask on. I might point out that this was not in any way deliberate. It’s just that I have spent the vast percentage of my life going into shops without a mask on, so I am still adjusting.
However, I am not a public servant and am therefore most likely afforded more leniency for my actions.
Political scandals contribute to a decline in the political system
Public office of any sort is a different matter. Whether it is fair or not, holders of public office will be held more accountable for their decisions and actions than the general public, and they know that. While everyone is entitled to privacy and freedom, once a person enters public life most will accept that what is private for a private individual may be of public interest once a person is elected or in a seat of power. Political scandals contribute to a decline in the political system, which is hardly surprising.
If I was a young person considering a career in politics, either as an elected representative or as an adviser, (which appears to be a less than secure job choice considering recent events), I might be re-thinking that choice. This is an unfortunate impact.
Back when we started Maria’s 20 questions, I signed up for the challenge myself. Number 12 in that list of questions was “The person that inspires me most is” and my response was “I believe in the human condition, no one person is perfect, there are many traits in many people that I admire and aspire to be more like, but I accept that they come with sacrifice or failings in other areas.”
Perhaps if the words “sorry”, “mistake” or “regret” had come sooner, the wave of public anger might have been assuaged (perhaps). But if Phil was the type to apologise first, would he ever have become the European Commissioner for Trade? Maybe, maybe not, and at this point it really doesn’t matter, as no amount of “ifs”, “buts” or “maybes” will change the situation where we find ourselves now. As I said, “Torn” – lost talent versus accountability.
Last word – a women most certainly using her talent for the betterment of society is this week’s cover star. Aisling Mahon’s mastectomy restorative tattooing is not only beautiful but she also gives confidence back to women who have suffered a terrible trauma. Read this if you read nothing else this week. It’ll remind you there are more important things in life than golf and all the other “gates”.