(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: