I will not wait in line to be lead
Updated: Sep 10, 2018
Published in the Athlone Topic
I received a series of WhatsApp messages from a friend “Hey bud” “hNY” which I presume means Happy New Year, “Are u going to the embasay bash tonight?” followed by “Tayshock in town.”
I panicked, I didn't know that the Taoiseach was visiting Madrid. This was huge news as I write occasionally about expat issues and the Irish Community in Madrid. I quickly contacted the Irish Embassy to see about getting an invitation. There was no reason for them to have contacted me as I would not have appeared on any news lists but I was very surprised when I contacted them requesting an invitation and was refused.
I received an e-mail saying that “I am afraid that, for security reasons, it will not be possible for you to attend the reception this evening at the Ambassador´s residence.”
Internationally many journalists are restricted access to many different people and events but I was shocked and surprised that I was denied entry to attend an event which is very significant to the Irish people in Madrid. To the 100 G.A.A. players in Madrid who regularly train and promote Irish sport, tradition and culture, my photos might only be blog worthy but they build a bigger picture of the Irish community. The book launch of an Irish writer, the large group advocating for Marriage Equality and a vote for the Irish diaspora. The small group I refused to join for fear of being arrested, who were protesting to Appeal the Eight, while in a Catholic country with strict new rules about protesting.
The many G.A.A. tournaments, the Halloween fancy dress parties, the green lights on St Patrick´s Day. The Spanish Irish Business Network´s guest speakers and events and the tragedy of missing a performance by an Irish born tenor who was singing John Count McCormack´s songs.
Enda Kenny T.D. is the Irish Prime Minister and I want to take him as a prime leadership example.
While I never met An Taoiseach before, I had frequently seen him in the Dáil canteen when he was the opposition leader. Each time, Enda Kenny queued patiently with others for cups of tea.
Sometimes I was ahead of him in the queue and sometimes I was behind him but I always saw him in the queue as an equal but patient well-mannered role model.
When I moved to Spain and became a teacher in 2011 after a stint working part-time in politics. I took the fine example from the Fine Gael leader. Every day at my new school, I queued for food.
Teachers were not required to queue with the children, they just skipped ahead. As an auxiliary teacher employed to help with children´s conversational skills, I gave them the chance to talk with me in the queue. For three years I am sure, I was a bizarre sight for the other teachers.
But without speaking Spanish, how could I put myself before a child speaking two languages?
On Wednesdays in that school, I use to have, Canteen Duty and I expected the children to do as I do, not just as I say. To wait patiently for your food and say thank you. No bullying or shortcuts.
Mr Kenny, you might receive both acclaim and criticism at home especially when it comes to patients in Irish hospitals but when you come to Spain, you should know, there are a thousand children following your example. Patience.
A Cultural & Language assistant following An Taoiseach´s example, while working in Spanish schools. Ireland needs to set the best possible example as division threatens the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Doors must be opened, journalists welcomed and questions answered, we are all friends.
Oscar Wilde said that “Bad manners make a journalist” and I will not wait for a leader.
Excuse my impatience, at finally shaking your hand.
A few weeks later on Saint Patrick's Day 2017, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny reminded Donald Trump about the importance of both the Irish diaspora and Ireland´s most famous immigrant, Saint Patrick.