The parents, friends and supporters of autistic children who packed the public gallery in Dail Eireann last week enthusiastically applauded Fianna Fail TD Mary O’Rourke when she severely criticised the Department of Education for failing to provide adequate education for autistic children (Irish Times, sub req’d).
O’Rourke was speaking on a Fine Gael private members’ motion calling on the Government to provide a badly needed Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) system for autistic children.
Her fine sentiments were quickly exposed as weasel words when she cynically voted against the motion she had just supported. That the motion would be defeated was never in doubt so O’Rourke was voting in her own interests and that of her party rather than any concern for autistic children.
Her cynicism was compounded over the weekend when she featured on a number of radio shows emoting about how she was haunted about the tragic death of a nephew as a result of autism. But even the death of her nephew from autism wasn’t sufficient to shake O’Rourke’s absolute dedication to the party.
Marian Finucane (Sunday) expressed puzzlement about this behaviour, here’s how O’Rourke answered (My emphasis).
O’Rourke – Ah Marian, can you look at me and say ‘you’re puzzled’ that I voted with my party?
Marian – But you tend to be fairly straight about things.
O’Rourke, Well, I am and I’m very straight, I’ve never voted against my party and I don’t intend to do so.
Marian – But straight also includes voting for your convictions
O’Rourke – Oh Marian, actions speak louder than words. I have worked for ABA now for many years, I intend to continue to work.
If I left my party, first of all one vote wouldn’t have made any difference…what influence would I have outside my party to influence party policy…I tell the truth and I speak from knowledge and from my mind…So to those who say why didn’t she vote with the Fine Gael motion? – I will never vote against my own party.
This blind dedication to the party is reminiscent of Soviet style politics. Loyalty to the party and the party leader takes precedence over all other considerations.
What’s truly amazing about this latest episode of political hypocrisy is the revelation that there are still people out there who trust and believe in politicians like O’Rourke. People who still believe that cowardly hypocrites like O’Rourke retain any semblance of integrity or honesty.