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We risk entering a period of corrosive, polarising politics

Deirdre Clune is right. The decision by the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork to cancel a Fine Gael meeting there is disgraceful.

The MEP called it mob rule. Funny, I don't blame the actual mob. They stayed home while we wrote billion euro cheques to the bondholders.

We didn't hear much from them as Gerry Adams went all Catholic Church and had a mental reservation about the silencing of rape victims and the moving around of paedophiles.

But hey, if paying for water - a political norm all over Europe - is what floats its boat, then Go Mob!

No - I blame the management. Things have been a bit rough the past few weeks, but when we see a protest in France or Greece, you've got the whole deal: burning cars, street fights and in response, water cannons and good old fashioned police brutality.

Our protesters go all shrieky when gardai shove them out of the way of moving vehicles. It's kid gloves in comparison.

cave

So, I feel sorry for Joan Burton. That must've been scary; but in the overall scheme of things, has any real damage been done? Has so much as a window been broken? Not that I can see.

So why cave? It's pretty pathetic and totally unnecessary. Fundamentally, it's cowardly and I can't bear cowardice. There's a time for sticking up for certain principles and this is that time.

The Rochestown Park Hotel has essentially said that intimidation has won out. You can disagree with the Government all you like, but they have been elected. Just as protesters have a right to protest, so do political parties have a right to meetings.

If you agree with the hotel, what exactly are you saying? Because if you're saying that hotels have a right to cancel legitimately organised events, that means they can cancel anti-water charges meetings too.

If you're as left as you claim to be, I presume you'd be against the cancellation of meetings of minorities, like Travellers, for fear of trouble. Which is illegal.

So before anyone scoffs at the fate of the poor Blueshirts, think hard about the principle you're endorsing.

Of course, speaking of Blueshirts, this is where the whole Blueshirt thing came from. In 1932, after Fianna Fail came to power, De Valera ordered the release of IRA prisoners, who promptly formed into bands who attacked the meetings of Cumann na nGaedheal.

Former members of the Free State army organised to protect the meetings, wearing blue shirts. Things got a bit tense after that but ultimately their leader, Eoin O'Duffy, fully accepted the rule of law and when a Blueshirt march was banned, he accepted it.

ATTACK

The point being that once you start to attack legitimate political meetings, you risk entering a spiral of polarisation that is deeply corrosive.

Funny, I interviewed Clune's father, Peter Barry, recently. His father Anthony was one of the nation's builders - brave men who endured a lot.

I asked him what was the most important lesson he taught his children. Without hesitation, he said tolerance.

Having seen the worst days, from the Civil War to IRA terrorism - he knew first hand what happens when democracy breaks down. His generation has nearly died off. Their principles never should.


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