Dear Heather,

I hope this finds you well — although how you could be, with the mob besetting you on all sides, is anyone’s guess. As if you wouldn’t have enough problems already with the economy! Who’d be a politician these days and especially in the year that’s in it? Well, yes, I do know that you get paid for your trouble. But what does the mob expect for their paltry €157,540 per annum? Sure one could never run a decent-sized house with servants and cars and kids going to university on that kind of money (not to mention the holidays you’d need, just to take a break from the mob).

Heather Humhpreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

The truth is, Heather, that the mob have had it in for you from the beginning – they never gave you a chance. First it was that you are not an Irish-speaker. Well! Who needs to be able to speak that dead language anyway (well, nearly dead, and the sooner the better)! Well, yes, ok, the Irish-speaking areas are part of your special responsibility, it’s called “the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht”, it is true, but everyone knows that the “Gaeltacht” just got added on to your Department’s responsibilities because it had to be put somewhere.

However, I do think it was unwise of you, if you don’t me saying this to you as a friend, to put that McHugh in the Gaeltacht job as Minister of State. I know he’s doing his best but darling it’s simply excruciating to listen to him stumbling over his koopla fukal (no, I’m not being rude) in public speeches. Surely there must a Blueshirt somewhere who can speak decent Irish?

Thankfully, with the Arts budget cut so thoroughly by this Government and the previous one, you didn’t have too much to worry about there. But Heritage? Oh dear! You’d think for that, one would just have to stick some cement on crumbling castles and pay some staff to look after some cromlechs or something, wouldn’t you? Or pay for the upkeep of some of those lovely Georgian or Victorian big houses (like the one you sorted out for Enda in his Mayo constituency – no, no, I don’t blame you one bit. Always look out for the boss, I say, if you want him to look after you.)

But a row of dilapidated houses in the city centre next to an untidy and smelly street market! Heritage! God give me strength – and you too, Heather, poor darling. That mob, Heather – fifteen years, going on for sixteen, they’ve been banging away about that. What a pity that Joe O’Reilly (bit of a boor really, but still ….) fell on hard times and couldn’t proceed with the demolition of that whole sorry terrace years ago and save you all this heartache!

Nothing is enough for that mob, nothing! Give them an inch and they’ll be screaming for a mile. First it was a clamour for Joe O’Reilly to put back the State’s 1916 50th anniversary plaque that had fallen off the front of No.16 Moore Street and ended up in his Chartered Land office. Honestly, the hullabaloo! Then it was one house the mob wanted made a monument, then it was four. Then the whole terrace — they’ll want the whole country next!

And just when you were going to have some of the houses demolished, that mob, the worst of them, occupied the buildings and stopped the demolition. What are we coming to? If it were me, Heather, I’ll tell you now, I’d have sent our own SWAT team in right away. You have to be tough with that kind of element, Heather, like your party was back in 1922 and ’23 — and sometimes you’re too soft. Yes, you know you are. Oh, sure, some liberals and Republicans would have kicked up a fuss but those vandals in occupation would have been dead or in jail and the terrace a demolished pile within hours. Let them try and get up a campaign over a pile of rubble!

I wonder whether it was wise to call yourself “a proud Irish republican”, when you were appointed, Heather. You had the job, after all, so why say things like that? It’s not as though your FG colleagues would be expecting it of you and it was, as they say, giving a hostage to fortune. Was it perhaps because you felt a bit insecure, as the only Presbyterian in the Government? Oh, Heather – you should know by now that there’s only one religion in Government, and it’s above even Christianity, never mind its various sects.

I despise the mob as much as you do, Heather but I think you could have thrown them a couple of bones a bit earlier. Buying the four houses from O’Reilly (a million each? Not bad, not bad at all for inner-city run down properties!) at the end of 2015 was obviously going to be too little, too late, with Easter 2016 just around the corner. That might have worked a few years ago but not now. You’d have been better off hanging tough, as our masters across the pond say, and giving them nothing except the back of your hand. Now they’ve got the bit between their teeth, collecting thousands of signatures, marching, picketing, blockading …. and even talking about what kind of a Republic they should have.

Heaven forbid they should ever get the Republic they want for if they do, I’ll be transferring whatever assets I can liquidate and getting out of the country as fast as I can.

But I digress …. What about the elections? Nobody expects the Government to survive, so no point worrying about that. Who will take their place? Well, remember when your party and Labour ousted Fianna Fáil? Election promises aside, it was business as usual afterwards, wasn’t it? It’ll probably be the same this time. Well, let’s hope so, anyway.

And your own Dáil seat? Is it safe? I do worry about that. We must have lunch soon and have a good gossip. The Radisson perhaps? Or better still a trip to Blarney, my treat? Anyway, one wouldn’t want to be around Dublin, of all places, at Easter …. with the year that’s in it.

That’s all for now, best wishes,

Phyllis Stein


    1. It’s ok to laugh, I think, as long as we realise the seriousness of the situation too. Humphreys had another letter some time back published on this blog. If you’re on Facebook, you might wish to LIKE the pages Save Moore Street From Demolition and Save Moore Street 2016, to keep up with the struggle to save the Moore Street terrace, site of the last stand of the GPO Garrison in 1916.

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