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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 29 July 2021

Cardinal Rules Part 12: On the prophet Ned O'Keeffe

The (not) Primate of All Ireland defends the outgoing TD’s right to root out the evil of intellectualism in politics.

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

“COMETH THE HOUR, cometh the man,” as they say, and never has this been truer than this week with the timely intervention of Mr Ned O’Keeffe.

Now while some people scoffed at Deputy O’Keeffe’s comments about a possible future army coup, I was a bit more circumspect. History is littered with examples of people predicting the future, being laughed at, and then eventually being proven right.

One only has to think of the example of St Gerard who predicted that “a dreadful livestock related calamity” would befall the village of Ochnahoy in 155AD. In 1955 a cow fell on a farmer on the outskirts of that very same village. Posterity had proven St Gerard nearly right, although the “calamity” was re-contextualised by the Vatican at the time, and downgraded to a “slight mishap”.

The Book of Revelations is also a wonderful prophetic source. In it you will find the rise of Hitler predicted, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the winner of this year’s X Factor.

Right Said Fred

There is a noble tradition of people predicting the seemingly ludicrous and eventually being proven right. Father O’Shea once predicted the arrival of Right Said Fred way back in 1985. Never has a man been more disgusted with the outcome of his own prediction. Although Father Deegan was delighted, and bought their debut album and each subsequent single. (I have to admit the B-sides are only brilliant).

There is also the noble tradition of putting one’s hands up and saying, “I didn’t see it coming. I wish I’d had a crystal ball,” as typified by the always gracious Mr Bertie Ahern. But today I would like to concentrate on people on the upper tier such as Mr O’Keeffe who are least 20 per cent right 5 per cent of the time.

Father Lawlor was rather dismissive of Deputy O’Keeffe’s claim that he had foreseen Ireland’s economic collapse.

“If he knew so much, why didn’t he say anything?” he spluttered.

I pointed out to him that genius doesn’t like to draw attention to itself. It just sits quietly in a corner waiting for its moment.

Father Lawlor nodded. “Can we at least ring him to find out who wins this year’s Grand National?” he asked.

I ruffled his hair, “Do you want to burn in Hell?” I smiled.

As the week wore on the howls of derision increased. I felt sorry for Mr O’Keeffe. I was particularly disappointed that he knew Radiohead’s new album was being released 24 hours early, but his innate modesty prevented him from revealing this fact.


However, his claim that there were too many intellectuals in government had me almost punching the air in the manner of a particularly pleased Premiership footballer. It is about time that someone came out and said it. One only has to look at Mr Conor Lenihan’s well-thought-out views on certain foreign cultures, and Michéal Martin’s penchant for what he calls “the really big words” to know that intellectualism runs through Fianna Fáil like that awful monkey virus in that brilliant Dustin Hoffman film.

My one regret is that Mr O’Keeffe neglected to mention that the scourge of intellectualism is not simply confined to party politics. It is a well known, but seldom remarked upon fact, that Mr Jackie Healy Rae holds secret tea parties at which he holds forth on the works of Jacques Derrida and Spinoza. The sooner all the intellectuals in Irish politics are “outed” the better.

The liberal media were of course predictably disparaging of Minister O’Keeffe. But I have to say there was a huge amount of sympathy for him in our house. We watched him on the news, and Father Duggan voiced his disgust at his treatment.

“He just says what we’re all thinking,” he said. Everyone murmured their agreement.

“I just wish he’d give us a hint about who will win the Grand National,” sighed Father Lawlor.

Have your say: Would you prefer a Cabinet full of sons of the soil a la Ned, or intellectuals?>

About the author:

(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady

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