08 September 2009

NAMA and The Northern Lights

So as the evenings start to grow longer, an autumnal air causes us all to break out our jumpers, sweaters and fleeces*, turn on the heating and offer a silent prayer to Dawkins that fate intervened and prevented us from fully enjoying all the waterlogged camping fun and delights at Electric Picnic**, our thoughts turn once more to the shattered remnants of our once proud economy and the stevedores of destiny that attempt to marshal the last vestiges of our national dignity into a pair of jeans clearly three sizes too small in the vain hopes of catching the eye of passing global investors, tempting them into an ill-advised tussle that leaves their wallets a fair bit lighter and their self-respect a little too tarnished to ask for their money back. I am of course referring to the clusterfeck that we have all come to know and love as NAMA.

As a signed up member of the Green Party I, unlike the other 99.99% of the good citizenry of this fair nation of ours, actually have a chance to have my voice heard on this issue, to express my outrage at the Government's plan to yet again reward the perpetrators of our financial Emmerich*** for their greed, avarice and unconscionable stupidity, and, if enough of my fellow party members feel likewise, possibly even trigger the rejection of NAMA and the collapse of the current Government. The Green Party membership is meeting this weekend in Athlone to discuss both NAMA and the review of the Program for Government. Members will have an opportunity to propose areas that the parliamentary party will then raise and pursue with Fianna Fail as the NAMA legislation is finalised. Subsequently on October 10th an additional special convention will be held wherein the members will get to vote on the party's support for both the finalised NAMA legislation, and the finalised Revised Program for Government. If the membership reject either proposal then its hard to see any outcome other than the collapse of the Government and a snap election.

This is the beauty of the Green Party and why I have held on despite finding myself in an increasingly small minority on so many substantive issues, it is quite simply the most democratic of the major parties. In no other mainstream political party do the rank and file members have so much control over what the party does. This weekend's NAMA conference is something that has originated purely from within the local consistency groups, from individual members expressing their concerns, and the party has responded. A debate on NAMA may be the last thing the parliamentary party wants, and it will fight for a Yes vote tooth and nail, but ultimately it is the membership that will decide and the TDs will respect that.

Alas, however, I will not be present at this Saturday's historic meeting, for I am away on Thursday off into the wilds of the Arctic Circle to explore the ravages of climate change first hand on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, home of the Arctic Seed Vault and forever immortalised by Philip Pullman. Do not seek to tut-tut me, for I know that your immediate thoughts are on the hypocrisy of flying hundreds of miles to a pristine wilderness to witness global warming first hand, for I know that merely by closing the door of the airplane I am part and parcel of the Emmerich**** wrought by mankind on the fair blue orb we call home.

In my defense I must point out that unfortunately Irish Rail do not, as of yet, offer a Dublin - Longyearbyen service, and if they did, given the fact that my one-way ticket from Killarney to Dublin cost me €38 yesterday, I shudder to think what they would charge for a return trip to Spitzbergen. Secondly, Ban Ki-Moon did the exact same thing last week, and if its good enough for him, its good enough for me. We have already established a precedent for overlapping disaster tourism, and if its all the same I'd prefer to keep our chance encounters as far away from home as possible, the arrival of the UN Secretary General to your town is rarely good news.

Finally, when I left work sixteen or so months ago my colleagues, knowing my ecological leanings and steadfastly ignoring my subtle hints for a cappuccino machine, had a polar bear tattooed in my name as a going-away gift, allegedly allowing it to be better tracked and simultaneously look bad-ass in the local bear biker bar. Given that I had no choice over what tattoo it received, I feel that only by traveling to see this magnificent beast and witness first hand the quality of the inkmanship that cost me an unlimited supply of frothy caffeinated goodness will there be any sense of true closure on that period in my life.

Hopefully when encountered my bear will neither be wearing armour, nor be disagreeable to showing me their ink. I will introduce myself to him politely, and with respect. I will admire his tattoo, even if I am unimpressed with its quality, and will express deep and heartfelt regret over the destruction my species has wrought on his environment, driving his species to the very brink of extinction with our lust for progress and convenience.

In return he will perhaps admire my own inkwork, ask where I have traveled from and then in a voice of ice and molten thunder bellow out into the white-blinded expanse that surrounds us both, "Ireland? Ireland? Man you guys are so Emmeriched!"

A cappuccino machine would have been far less judgmental.

* though not today, with Dublin a muggy 18C, humid, grey and overcast, with all the subtle charms of a sweaty civil servant with too great a fondness for vinegar on their lunchtime chips

** unlike my sisters, troopers that they are, who now hold the honorary rank of Able Seafolk in the Sea Scouts thanks to their inspired choice of tent locations, abandoned with some haste to the elements early on Sunday morning while I supped hot chocolate warm and cosy in front of a roaring fireplace near the Gap of Dunloe

*** my new term for a disaster so great only Roland Emmerich could adequately represent it on film. Also, a milestone on an actor's downward spiral into career oblivion, as in "wow, John Cusack's really Emmeriched it this time, I mean I thought American Sweethearts and Identity had Emmeriched him for good, but this, this is really something else"

**** see, works quite well, doesn't it?

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