Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Venting Some Spleen: Yet Another Rant About Ireland, Saying Nothing That Hasn't Already Been Said Elsewhere, But With An Amusing Song At The End...

(The following is a short and rather unfocused rant brought on by depression at the current situation in Ireland. Please disregard if you're not in the mood and skip straight to the song at the end, which is entirely unrelated!) 
Reading about the John O'Donoghue expenses scandal recently (for those of you from abroad, O'Donoghue is a senior member of Fianna Fail, our governing party, who racked up an outrageously extravagant expenses bill over several years when a minor minister during the Celtic Tiger era), I am disgusted, but also surprised that anyone would be surprised by this. I mean, what did the Irish electorate expect to happen if they put a bunch of venal, irresponsible, arrogant chancers into office and give them carte blanche with their expenses? It was in 2006 when O'Donoghue took the now-notorious trip on the government jet to a constituency function (details here), and I can't imagine that he hid this fact as he was slapping backs and shaking hands in Kerry that night. Yet they weren't concerned with this staggering waste of taxpayers' money; instead, they voted him back into office the following year. In fact, he got 23% of the vote, the highest of all the candidates in his constituency. Or, if you want to despair, read this
It has been clear since the 1980s that Fianna Fail are the most corrupt, gombeen-ridden, unprincipled party in this country, who already bankrupted the state once with their reckless policies, yet it's only when the biggest bubble in Irish history inevitably collapsed that quite a lot of people have suddenly realised that electing such people to manage things in the first place might not be sensible. Where was the anger before? How come practically every FF minister topped the poll in the 2007 general election? Since the days of Charles Haughey, the most contemptible politician this country has produced so far, Fianna Fail have never greatly disguised their corruption and cronyism. When FF bigwigs were yakking it up with property developers in the VIP tent at the Galway Races, where were the protests? Where was the righteous fury then? The leader of the party was himself under investigation for extremely dodgy transactions, which later forced his resignation (when he wasn't recommending that people who weren't happy with the economy should commit suicide), yet a substantial proportion of his constituents, and the nation at large, didn't seem to care. If there was ever an international prize for Closing The Door After The Horse Has Bolted, the Irish should be a shoo-in. And it seems unlikely, with NAMA poised to screw the country for the foreseeable future (the last act of the Great Property Swindle, as it were), that anything is going to change. "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face ... for ever." So said George Orwell in 1984. Well, if you want to see the future of Ireland, replace the boot with a golf shoe, picture the likes of Seanie FitzPatrick and Bertie Ahern doing the stamping, and the face as that of a mentally ill homeless guy, and you might be closer to the truth. Except there'll be some red-faced, big-bellied local in the background defending the politician: "Shure, he's a great fella all the same, hasn't he been great for the local people? So what if he kicked a homeless guy to death for the fun of it? Twas just a bit o' craic, like? It's all them Dublin media types pickin' on him!" And so on and on and on...
My apologies for this rant, but I'm so depressed and angry about what's happening in this poisoned little country that it is at times hard to think straight ... In fact, I feel better after getting that off my chest, and to apologise for that splenetic eructation, here's a song that makes me chuckle:

9 comments:

jams o donnell said...

I've always felt that our venal British politicians were amateurs when it comes to corruption...

I have a way to help Ireland in its current economic climate.. find a way to generate electricity from the spinning of Sean Lemass's body in his grave....

A Doubtful Egg said...

Maybe I should send that suggestion to Ireland's Green Party!
As for corruption, one of our best journalists, Fintan O'Toole, recently pointed out that the problem is not that Irish politicians are more prone to corruption than any others, but that there is no punishment for it, either legally or from the electorate. Politicians who are caught red-handed often top the poll in the following election. Then people turn around and complain that nothing in this country works properly!

Claudia said...

Please, allow me to use "splenetic eructation" to qualify my next rant on Canadian Politics. With so many years behind me, when I read what happens in other countries, my deep cynicism surfaces and I usually think What else is new? When I talk with fellow citizens, at election time, we don't seem to have a clue about the politicians we elect. If they seem to be honest, as candidates, they soon become corrupted once in power. It's hard to dislodge them specially if nobody worthwhile want to jump in the political arena.

I'm glad you feel better having expressed your angry frustration. Although you say that the fun song you offer is not related to your rant, I beg to differ. I nearly wish that Machines would take over and run our world. It would be great to see competent efficiency at work.

I love the video. I heard it a few times to absorb all the details. It was fascinating to read about the theremin. Not easy to play an instrument without touching it. Amazing that it's been used by so many good artists, and still is, though syntesizer is more popular now. As a traditional pianist, I feel obsolete, useless, and even boring at times. If I had a few more years ahead, I would wish to become familiar with those instruments.

Always exciting to discover other musical areas. Thanks!

A Doubtful Egg said...

Thanks for your (as usual, thoughtful and interesting) comment. I've a splitting headache at the moment, and am away from home, so I'll give a more detailed response when I'm back by my own fireside. As McSeanigall would say, the peace of the night!

jams o donnell said...

I forgot to mention. Thanks for introducing me to Lothar and the Hand People. Hitherto they were just a Name

Sean Jeating said...

Amazing (?) coincidence, D.E..
This afternoon, having enjoyed two mugs of coffee and Ms. J's plum cake with whipped cream (the plums being freshly picked the day before), instead of afterwards going on with doing what has to be done, I let the garden being the garden and re-read three essays from a book I bought in 1996: Arguing at the Crossroads - Essays on a changing Ireland.
- Julia O'Faolain - The Imagination as Battlefield;
- Bob Quinn - Imagining Conamara;
- Fintan O'Toole - Perpetual Motion.

Ha! Don you know those moments you read something you consider fabulous / brilliant etc.?
The wish to share? To jump up, run in [or is it into? - the kitchen or bathroom and say: "Darling, listen!"?

Hm, suppose I should write a post about.

Anyway, my friend, having said this: Your rant did / does perfectly fit to my afternoon's reading.

May your headache may soon have faded away and find no successor - like the Haugheys & McQuaids seem always to find.

A Doubtful Egg said...

Claudia,
I feel the demise of the piano has been greatly exaggerated, and that are a lot more interesting sonorities to be discovered in that queen of instruments. Like oil painting, I think... And while I like the theremin, I think a lot of exposure to it in bad sci-fi films has biased me somewhat against it...
After I had posted the song, it suddenly occurred to me that my subconscious had been at work in choosing it, though at a different slant from your thinking: it occurred to me that it could evoke the vast corrupt machine of Ireland's political system, perpetually rolling along, enriching its operators and squeezing the life out of those at the bottom. I'm still feeling a bit bleak, I think...

Sean,
Two mugs of coffee and Mrs J's plum cake sound mighty fine! And I spend a lot of my time leaping to my feet after reading/watching/listening to something, emboldened by the need to share the experience! Hence my (currently somewhat neglected) blog. And my actual headache has receded, although my more psychological one (brought on by current affairs) is as malignant as ever. But on the other hand, there is a beautiful sunset at Chez Doubtful this evening, a tasty dinner in store, and some fine music on the stereo...

Stan said...

Well vented. What has become of this country is sickening, not least how it is being managed, or in some cases mismanaged. But we get the government we deserve, and your point about re-electing politicians who were caught red-handed is quite true. It happens on this side of the Shannon, too.

Lothar and the Hand People were one of those bands I admired in college for the amusing eccentricity of their name before I ever heard their music. The song you included here is like a Kraftwerk b-side remodelled by Television, or something. As to theremins, I am very fond of them when they are put to good use - be it in a 1950s b-movie or a Clara Rockmore performance - but the similar-sounding saw has a softer and in some ways more beguiling sound.

A Doubtful Egg said...

I remember being quite amused by the antics of Cllr 'Stroke' Fahy (was ever a nickname more apt?). And I've been a fan of the saw ever since I saw one being used in Delicatessan!