I am not a political animal. Never was. Never will be. Although perhaps in ‘another life’ I might have been.
I’m remembering a phone call I received 40 years ago or so inviting me to join a particular political party.
Although I was flattered that the party in question (a party whose principles and policies I held in high esteem) thought highly enough of me to enlist me in their ranks I graciously declined.
At least I hope I was gracious. Ah, I’m sure I was.
Second thoughts were not required. Nor did I need to sleep on it. Politics was not for me.
Forty years on I find myself writing this column with a broad political smile on my face. That smile has to do with our recently formed Government and the presence of the Green Party in that historic coalition, in particular the presence of Kilkenny’s Malcolm Noonan.
‘One of our own’ to resort to a cliché (the currency of many a politician, but I’m not going there) Malcolm Noonan and myself go back a long way. We go back to the late 1970s, early 1980s. And we go back to a classroom in St Patrick’s De La Salle Primary School in Coote’s Lane.
There’s Malcolm Noonan at one desk and there’s Gerry Moran at another. With a fair bit of social distancing (unheard of at the time) between us. The reason for the distancing was simple: I was up front at the master’s desk while Malcolm, along with maybe 35 others, was sitting somewhere down the classroom.
Gerry and Malcolm. Teacher and pupil.
So, what was Malcolm Noonan TD like as a pupil? Hey, I can’t even remember what Gerry Moran was like as a teacher and besides there’ll be no tales out of school. No, sir.
Suffice it to say that Malcolm was a good guy. And still is. As all who know him will testify to.
I must also say that all he learned about politics – he learned from yours truly! He did in his butt. Yours truly knows little about politics which doesn’t stop him, of course, from spouting, and bullshitting, about politics in the pub or around the dinner table or wherever.
Like any teacher, I have taken a keen interest in my past pupil and his progress in the world of politics. But more than taking an interest I have taken my ballot paper and pencil and given Malcolm a vote.
But not just any vote – I have given him my Number One. Always. And I hereby apologise to all those politicians I hitherto promised my number one to. I lied. Get over it. And of course you will, you’re politicians for Godsake.
The reason I bestowed my number one on Malcolm was not because I am a dyed-in-the-wool GPG (Green Party Guy); I am green at heart but not always in practice.
I love the party’s ideals, however, to quote the Good Book, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. In short I sometimes take short cuts when it comes to recycling and reusing although all I want right now is a short, back and sides – in short, a haircut!
The prime reason why I gave Malcolm Noonan my prime vote was - and is - because I believe in his integrity. Full stop. And I’m not trying to butter the man up just because he’s in power and the wife and I would like a grant (a small one) for a small garden shed. A green one!
And so, it’s been a hell of a journey, Malcolm, from a seat in a De La Salle classroom to a seat in the Dáil. To a seat in power! And okay, so the Greens are the party in the middle, the middle of the FF/FG sandwich but very often the best part of any sandwich is the vital ingredients in the middle.
Malcolm Noonan I salute and congratulate you, and the Green Party, on all that you have achieved. I am proud, very proud, of you.
NINETY years young
Another person I am very proud of is Eileen Reade from St Fiacre’s Place (a stone’s throw from Malcolm Noonan’s home place) on reaching her 90th birthday.
Well done Eileen and knowing your tenacity of spirit you too could take a seat in the Dáil and sort out a thing or two. Or three. No better woman!
Sorry to have missed the celebrations, hopefully I’ll make it for your 100th. God bless and good health, Eileen.