It is billed in some quarters as a clash between the two Irelands.
On the one hand there is traditionally rural Ireland, down to earth and contemptuous of ‘ideas’. On the other hand, the new metropolis of Ireland, which likes one or the other ice-cold macchiato.
Was it an attack by the snowflakes, a language police rampage? Or was it simply a matter of paying attention to how we say what we say to make sure we don’t offend or hurt those around us?
Kerry TD Michael Healy-Rae only agreed to go ahead live line yesterday on the condition that no listeners were allowed to come and question him.
It was a decision that backfired — it meant he missed the sprawling dead ends that often serve as a distraction on the show and instead faced the steely focus of Joe Duffy, who dissected his every word.
It centered squarely on a bitter Dáil clash that at first appears to have arisen from a clash of egos compounded by a semantic issue.
In yesterday’s heated debate over a proposed LNG plant in North Kerry, Mr Healy-Rae indicated he was more in line with what the people of Ireland want.
He claimed Leo Varadkar got “a little jab” by asking if he understood an earlier reply and accused him of “looking down his nose”.
The multimillionaire said: “The funny thing is I wouldn’t dare look down on you or anyone because I don’t, but maybe you do because you’re a little big shot.”
“As I said, off with the air fairies and let’s see how far ‘twill will get you. But one thing you can be sure of is it’s not pretty to look down at me and say what you said to me a while ago. Unkind.”
The Tánaiste sounded genuinely hurt when he said what the Kerry TD had said was “frankly” “not nice” and urged him to “think over” his comments and take them back “if he wanted to.” .
At live lineMr Healy-Rae insisted it was never his intention to offend the Tánaiste and that his use of the term ‘airy fairy’ had nothing to do with Mr Varadkar’s sexuality.
“First of all, I can’t apologize if I don’t have anything to apologize for,” he insisted.
He uses the term “airy-fee” “very much”.
live line An analysis was available and found that he had used it four times, but never as a noun.
Joe Duffy wondered “Who are the airy fairies”?
“Do you know that the Tánaiste is gay?” he asked.
“I would never seek to offend or upset anyone, and the Tánaiste knows that,” Mr. Healy-Rae said before attempting to steer the conversation to energy security.
“The funny thing is, Joe, you know I didn’t know [mean it in an offensive way],” he claimed.
Joe had none of it.
“I don’t know you – I’ve never met you,” he replied.
In the end, there was no apology — although there should have been.
Have we learned nothing from a bitter debate over ‘fake news’, exacerbated by a pandemic colliding with a vicious war on European soil? We cannot afford to be holed up when the world moves beneath our feet.
Well, he didn’t mean the words to offend and doesn’t deserve to be “cancelled”. But that doesn’t mean Leo doesn’t have the right to be offended. He has every right.
An apology still means a lot when you’ve been offended.
And it costs nothing – except for a person who is far too fixated on their right to say whatever they want, regardless The consequences.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/michael-healy-raes-decision-to-go-toe-to-toe-with-joe-duffy-backfired-and-kept-the-focus-on-bitter-airy-fairies-dail-row-41480998.html RTE Liveline: Michael Healy-Rae’s decision to go head-to-head with Joe Duffy backfired – and kept the focus on the bitter ‘airy-fairy’ Dáil dispute