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Reputations have long since gone up in flames

“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” – TS Eliot It’s Monday evening and things hang in a very grubby balance in Ireland. International news reports, on the other hand, are telling us all that young men in Egypt and Mauritania have set themselves on fire in acts of public, political protest. They are said to be modelling themselves on Mohammed Bouazizi, the 26-year-old Tunisian whose act of self-immolation is credited with sparking the current unrest or crisis, depending on the news outlet, in Tunisia.The act of setting one’s body aflame in political protest is an extraordinary one. It demands belief and extraordinary courage. The motivations for mutual immolation being displayed by the Fianna Fáil party in Ireland at the moment cannot be said to stem from such laudable ideals. Indeed, the actions of both Micheál Martin and Brian Cowen, however misjudged, are more about …

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