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The elevation of Eoghan

Eoghan Harris is Bertie’s new senator

17 August 2007

John McAnulty

The elevation of Eoghan Harris to the Irish Senate brought about a storm of protest. Commentators expressed shock, incredulity and horror. One commentator even offered it as proof that Fianna Fail had a sense of humour! 

A much more convincing explanation has been offered by the Village magazine, arguing that the new post is payback for a counteroffensive against the media by Harris when they questioned the financial dealings of Bertie and the behind the scenes political dealings of Harris’ boss, Tony O’Reilly. 

But the last thing that Bertie Ahern deploys when making political calculations is a sense of humour. Nor is Fianna Fail famous for gratitude. Understanding the elevation of Eoghan rests not just on past services he has done the state, but also on future service he might yet do.

What is the service that Eoghan has carried out for the Irish state? Along with other figures such as Kevin Myers and Ruth Dudley Edwards, he has acted as a sort of intellectual Rottweiler for Irish capital. Harris has often been criticised as a sort of chameleon, jumping from socialism to capitalism, from republicanism to unionism. In fact, this behaviour is typical of petty-bourgeois self-proclaimed intellectuals. They must adopt a critical ideology to prove their intellectual independence in order to sell their wares more effectively. This zig-zag was more pronounced in Ireland because they were faced with an overwhelming contradiction – to spout the language of democracy and equality while at the same time freeing the Irish bourgeoisie from the chains of an incomplete nationalist revolution and to proclaim the forces of unionism and imperialism and the division of the country as satisfactory outcomes of the Irish freedom struggle. Harris was exceptional in that he always had a pathological hatred of revolutionary currents.  The mere mention of our mother organisation, Peoples Democracy, or of the Trotskyist current in socialism was enough to reduce him to gibbering rage.

The task of Harris and their ilk was not to present reasoned argument, but to dogmatically revise Irish history, current affairs and politics, to mould them more closely to the interests of Irish capital and to witchunt dissidents. For that reason the zenith of Harris' career was as the lash of republicanism in RTE, applying the baton of emergency legislation encoded in section 31, to reward the company men and women who collaborated, to force out any independent voices and to silence any justification of the Northern struggle or for the call for an Irish democracy.

The problem for capitalism’s gendarmerie within the media is that there is no stopping point and no turning back.  In order to oppose Irish unity it eventually became necessary to directly support capitalism and imperialism and, as they became more rapacious, to offer a more virulent defence.

It is not enough to send the North sailing off into the Atlantic.  It is then necessary to construct a new country – an Ireland of 26 counties – a Saorstat.  Not just any old state, but one where the era of the tribunals into corruption has ended, where personal corruption by politicians is trumpeted and the critics are trampled, where big business can openly write the political agenda and organise the financial and taxation system to suit themselves and when again criticism is scorned and the critics savaged.

Who better for these tasks than the new senator Harris? 

One of Fianna Fail’s last tools on the senate was the Northern Castle Catholic Maurice Hayes.  His task was to tell Northern nationalists not to poke at the internal mechanism of state collusion and murder.  He was so successful that Sinn Fein are now the party not poking and Maurice is no longer needed.  Hayes has gone. A new senator Harris will tell us not to poke – we can have stability with the two renewed Irish states as long as we don’t poke and release the stench of corruption.


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