Irish Examiner column 26 June 2009

July 16, 2009

Robbie offside playing
politics

R OBBIE KEANE thinks we
should vote yes in the Lisbon
Treaty referendum re-run, soon to come to a ballot box near you.

Already your nose is twitching as you reach into a quiver of ready-made, obvious retorts: what is a soccer star doing preaching to the rest of us on how we should vote, for a start?

In fact, what is a soccer star who no longer lives in Ireland and is therefore not subject to the laws of the land
doing, preaching to the rest of us?

More in his line to sort out his travails with defenders playing a high line against him: I’d vote for that (and etc and etc).

During the week a radio station even played a spoof interview with Keane, splicing identikit post-game answers into questions supposedly
relating to the European treaty. An obvious opportunity, taken like a tap-in on the goal-line, the sort that Robbie himself specialises in (see? Once you start you can’t stop).

However, we have some sympathy for Robbie. For one thing, if he hasn’t read the Lisbon Treaty, then he’s in good company. By definition the most fervent Euro-evangelising Irish person of all must surely be our Commissioner to the Union.

Charlie
McCreevy hasn’t read the text of the Lisbon Treaty, however.

“I have a document that puts together what it (the Lisbon Treaty) would look like and I have read most
of that,” said
McCreevy last year.

“I would predict that there won’t be 250 people in the whole of the 4.2 million population of Ireland that have read the treaties cover-to-cover. I further predict that there is not 10% of that 250 that will understand every section and subsection.

“But is there anything different about that? Does anyone read the Finance Act?”

(They don’t have to, of course,
because everyone knows what pops up in the budget is enacted in the
Finance Act.

For another thing, Keane isn’t the only person advocating a ‘yes’ vote whose credibility in the pulpit is a little shaky.

It’s a bit rich to take lectures on sovereignty and citizenship from someone like The Edge: U2 have been widely criticised for availing of a Dutch tax shelter since 2006, with one charity spokesperson saying that while U2 may campaign for a better deal for the world’s poor, they are taking advantage of the same tax avoidance schemes that rob impoverished countries of billions.

Speech over. We can hear you say you were expecting to read about puck-out policies or line-out strategies, that you’ll take the bit of geopolitics as everyone could do with some more roughage in their diet but is there any chance of a joke or a yarn at any stage?

F OR all our sympathy for Robbie
you’ve got to worry about
sportspeople getting involved in politics. We’re not so much talking about career politicians — from Jack Lynch to Jesse Ventura, if they commit to the lifestyle they learn quickly it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

It’s more the single-issue spokesman or mouthpiece we’re referring to, which can be a pretty sticky wicket because sportspeople tend to the single-minded and obsessive.

Politics is described in a thousand unflattering ways, but nobody disputes that when it functions properly it showcases the art of the compromise.

By contrast, how many times have you read about a sporting icon that he or she is totally and utterly dedicated to their craft, or that he or she has a hatred of losing that bordered on the psychotic and can’t be approached
after a defeat?

Which leads to the obvious question — how suited is a person who is not willing to compromise to achieve their aims, and who has a seriously distorted view of how the world
operates, to making reasoned political argument?

contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

Twitter: MikeMoynihanEx

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