Big stars, blood relatives and one guilty silence

By Jude Collins

One of the basic errors of logic is to argue from the particular to the general (‘The people getting the dole are a lazy shower – there’s a guy next door to me has turned down two job offers’). So when I see Bono strutting the world pontificating on what the planet needs, I have to remind myself that yes, Bono gets an audience because (i) he is vastly rich; (ii) he fronts a tuneless rock band, but that doesn’t mean everyone who’s famous for one thing can’t talk sense about another.

For example, Irish politics is littered with ex-sporting stars. Dick Spring might never have got out of Kerry if it hadn’t been for his politically-successful father. Here in the north, the SDLP did their damnedest to make a political star of former TV presenter Feargal McKinney (whatever became of him, I wonder?). And while it’s hard for Irish people to admit, the notion of a Kennedy dynasty in politics is another example of people having an unfair head start in politics. Ditto Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo: these two Democrat Party stars might have made it without their nearest and/or dearest being big-name politicians but the relationship certainly did them no harm.

However, there’s such a thing as being too rigorous. Billy Connolly was once accused of being a snob because he went shooting ‘n’ fishing with Prince Charles. Connolly’s reply was that he believed in equality and that Prince Charles shouldn’t be excluded from his [Connolly’s] company, just because he was the heir to the throne. So maybe I should pay more attention to what people say and do, rather than what ladder or leg-up they’ve used to get on the political stage.

Cork sports star Donal Óg Cusack has been mooted as a possible candidate for Sinn Féin at the next election. In a recent speech he urged the need for people to think and debate about the kind of society they want - what economic system, what sort of health service, sports facilities, Church. That makes good strong sense, especially if actions follow analysis. But since Cusack was speaking at the An Phoblacht Autumn School in Co Cork and appeared alongside Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald, shouldn’t he have included national unity as an area for reflection and debate?

Much has been made of Cusack’s recent coming-out: he’s the only openly-gay player of Gaelic games. It’d be truly shaming if a desire to end partition became the love that dare not speak its name.

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