Green Graffiti Gormley Gouda

Today I discovered that the Irish Green Party are in government. They have formed a coalition with their arch-enemies, the odious Fianna Fáil, and my old buddy John Gormley has become minister for the environment.

Now this important fact was completely ignored (swept under the rug, if you will – nice…) by the Swedish media. I mean, who cares what happens in Ireland, right? You might think it would demand SOME attention, at least from the “serious” newspapers – but instead we got “How much is YOUR car worth?” and “New hidden sickness affecting SWEDISH women!”

So I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Green minister for the environment…sure, great; but coalition with Ireland’s Most Corrupt Party(tm)? Well, now I’m not sure at all.

I was searching for more info about this and found, naturally enough, a lot of disgruntled people out there. The questions most on their minds were: Have the Irish Greens sold out? Did they ever have anything important to say, or were they just appealing to middle-class guilt? Were they really just after the power all along?

It’s hard to answer, although (name dropping ahead…) when I knew John Gormley I was convinced that the man DID give a shit about justice and environment and all the rest of it. And if given the offer to be Minister for the Environment…well, how could a Green turn that down, even if he will be severely hobbled by his centre-right paymasters?

However…while searching I found a few articles about John Gormley and his battle against graffiti. To quote his actual speech from the Dail (the Irish Parliament):

“This is not a harmless activity. Householders and shopkeepers must remove the graffiti and this costs a considerable amount of money. I know the owner of the pen shop on Dame Street had to remove graffiti from his windows and stonework on at least three occasions. Not only that, but graffiti gives rise to a sense of urban blight and lawlessness.”

Indeed: “urban blight and lawlessness”. Now this starts to worry me greatly, as a hatred of graffiti is a major symptom of developing conservative views. Just yesterday I got a leaflet from the Swedish Moderates (in power these last 6 months) where they blamed pretty much everything wrong with Stockholm on the “graffiti problem”. Not privatising hospitals; not cutting social support; not driving big fat murder-gas spewing cars around; not selling off state-owned businesses and apartments for quick cash, but…graffiti.

Now just what is the fucking problem with graffiti? Sure it isn’t always pretty, but it CAN be pretty. And even if it isn’t pretty, what is the PROBLEM? Why must it be stopped and removed at huge cost, producing pristine empty places that will attract even more graffiti? I can think of twenty-five things in the modern urban environment that are a great deal more ugly than graffiti, things that nobody is spending a million dollars a year to remove.

So this graffiti crusade is obviously, to me at least, an attempt to appeal to public sentiment on an issue that is “topical” but actually completely and utterly pointless. Paint on a building doesn’t matter, not even slightly. Graffiti is as old as civilisation, so get fucking used to it. And if you are “coming out against graffiti” then you are a useless middle-class lump who thinks the kids are out on control and that everything was better before.

As well as this, graffiti can indeed be art. And if you don’t believe me, then please take some time to explore the work of Mr. Banksy, one of the most relevant artists alive.

And please, you Irish readers – give me your opinion on this, because I don’t really know enough to draw a conclusion, as I have not really been Irish for 10 years. I like John Gormley, really I do, but I’m just a bit out of touch here. A lot can change in 10 years.

/ paddy

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7 thoughts on “Green Graffiti Gormley Gouda

  1. What you are wondering is exactly what a lot of other people here are wondering.

    The Greens agreed to go into government with FF and the PD’s plus some independents and ceded three of their main objectives

    -No stopping of US troops using Shannon airport
    -No rerouting of the M3 motorway around Tara historical site
    -No end to co-location of hospitals (Government trying to solve overcrowding in public hospitals by giving land from public hospitals to private developers to build private hospitals!)

    Because of ceding these points some say the Greens have sold out, including Patricia McKenna former Green MEP.

    However the other opinion is that the Greens will have more opportunity to achieve their policies as part of a government rather than in opposition. Indeed they have never been in government here before.

    So the jury is still out.

    Before the election I thought a FF/Green government was a strong possibilty and probably the best outcome compared to other alternatives.

    However the fact that the PD’s and independents are there seems to water everything down. We’ll just have to see.

    PS. That Muppet Jackie-Healy-Rae is one the independents. Makes one proud to be ‘ruled’ by that eejit.

  2. I was in NYC when it fell apart in the 1970s. The city was going broke, and the graffiti artists were taking over. It was the golden era of spraying paint on subway trains, overpasses and just about everything else. For the average citizen, it was horribly demoralizing. Everywhere you looked, stuff was falling apart. The trains were late. There were fires on the tracks. The Son of Sam was shooting people in parked cars. Nothing was worth anything because the government wasn’t taking care of anything.

    Compare the NYC electrical power blackouts of 1965, 1977 and 2003. In 1965 and 2003, graffiti was under control, and when electrical power went out, New Yorkers stayed under control. Sure, the lack of electricity was a problem, especially if you lived on an upper floor, but the city stayed calm. In 1977, things were out of control. There was rioting, looting and other stupidity.

    I can’t claim that graffiti was anything more than a symptom. My entire childhood in the 1960s has my family driving to my grandparents house in the South Bronx, which had been a big step up from the now trendy Lower East Side. There was a huge 20 foot high ROCKEFELLER SUCKS painted on the Hells Gate railroad bridge to the Bronx, so I know that graffiti was around before the 1970s, but when it got out of control in the 70s and 80s, it hurt something. For a few people in the artistic community, graffiti was glorious art. For most people it was a sign of the end of days. Maybe someone will open a theme park full of painted subway cars, but most New Yorkers would rather not have to relive that.

    P.S. I think Rockefeller did suck, but his asinine drug laws came after someone painted the bridge.

  3. Stu: OK, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

    Kaleberg: Thanks, that was interesting. However, as you say, it may be that graffiti is only a symptom and not a cause. I don’t think we can really claim that the 1977 blackouts were different from the 2003 because of the graffiti level in the city. A lot has changed in 25 years.

    But I see your point – and maybe it IS that obvious signs of “lawlessness”, such as graffiti, DO in fact have a worsening effect. But I am not sure – it would be good to see some research on this. Anybody know any more?

  4. Swedish media will never tell you anything about what’s happening in Ireland, except for the latest news of the peace process in the North. But BreakingNews.ie has an RSS feed…

  5. “Anyone who wants to be a politician should be prevented from doing so,” as Billy Connolly said.

    I never trust anyone in a suit and stopped wearing one when I escaped the corporate world in 2002.

    Now that Trevor Sargent and his merry band of sell-outs are all sporting suits (probably from a FF tailor) it just reinforces all I think of politicians.

    I didn’t vote. I live in a county where people vote for the likes of Jackie Healy-Rae so obviously there is no sane political system where I live.

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