Poster Children of the Recession

Posted on January 17, 2011

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It’s been an interesting week or so in Ireland. Brian Cowen showed over the weekend that when the going gets tough, the tough…shout a lot. Having said that, you have to admire whoever manages his personal appearance. He’s been hanging on to the edge for so long now that most of us would have ended up needing a scrub to get the dirt out from under the nails followed by a seriously good manicure.

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Having said that, and amidst all the turmoil, anger and betrayal that people are feeling, I still do not believe that Cowen should be held up as the poster child of the recession.

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Now, stop throwing things at me. I am not, before anyone accuses me, a Fianna Fail follower: never have been and never will be.

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I won’t try to argue that Cowen is not in some way to blame. I think, in his actions as Minister for Finance he shot himself in the foot. But Bertie shot him in the other one.

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Stepping into the role left behind by the modern-day Siegfried Sassoon style general, Cowen was really being handed a poisoned chalice. It was as if you’d been denied access to your child for the easy, toddler years and suddenly you become sole guardian when they hit 16, sprout spots and start eyeing up young ones with little knowledge of contraception.

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Let’s be fair here. Cowen contributed hugely to the crisis by signing off on this, that and every other plan that was handed to him as Minister for Finance. But who was handing them to him? Cowen should have yelled ‘Stop’ to Bertie but would he have listened?

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My guess is no. Bertie lorded it over us all during the Celtic Tiger years – the Fresh Prince of Ireland, “Howya lads” – “Howya Bertie”. Ah sure wasn’t he great? Poor oul’ Bertie and they bringing him up in front of the Tribunals like that, sure what would he want a bank account for?

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When Charlie Haughey tells you to watch out for someone, then you know that you’re dealing with a snake.

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But enough about my enormous contempt and, actually I would say ‘loathing’ for Bertie Ahern. I was talking about poster-children.

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And I still do not believe that Cowen should be held up as the poster-child for the recession.

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I think you could draw a picture of every single bank logo and that could be an accurate poster child. Ditto for the developers.

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I think you could put Seanie Fitzpatrick’s sneering, arrogant mug on a board and that would also sum it up very nicely.

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I think you could put up David Drumm, peering out of his mansion in Massachusetts with Charlie Bird standing outside flinging stones at the window.

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I think you could put Bertie in his canary yellow suit, grinning manically with George Bush up there.

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And perhaps, most incendiary of all, you could just put up a picture of a mirror. Hell, put some shiny tin-foil on it so that when you looked closely at it, the effect and message of the poster came across even more clearly.

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Now, you’re throwing things again. Stop it.

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I’ve lamented the attitude the Celtic Tiger instilled in us before, I’m not going to get into it now because I won’t sleep tonight. But suffice to say, we all got too big for our well-worn steel toe-capped boots.

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But as regards the mess we’re in. We voted for these morons. We put them in a position where they were given power to screw it all up. At the time we voted them back in, it had become clear to a blind man that they couldn’t run a session in a brewery. They screwed up during the good times so hey, let’s throw them in when it gets really tough and see what happens. We’re not quite as much to blame as the ones outlined above but we have to bear the brunt of knowing that we could have been rid of them before things ever came to the head they came too.

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This morning I read in The Irish Times that Irish people returning home from working abroad would not be given the dole as ‘coming home had decreased their chances of getting a job’. One of the people mentioned was a man who had worked abroad for four years and was returning home to be with his wife and child. So you are allowed to leave, provide financially for your family from a distance but when you come home to provide emotionally for them you’re tossed out on your ear and told to live on scraps. What on earth has this country come to? I know people who qualify for the full amount of dole and they’ve never worked a day in their lives. They have no debts, no bills, no nothing. And yet a man with a wife and child cannot get assistance.

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Well, my decision was made when I read that this morning. I plan to leave the country when I finish my Masters in college. I had always planned to go, travel, work in a different country and make my way through that designated path until I found myself someplace I wanted to be, whether that was Ireland or elsewhere.

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Well, Ireland has now, well and truly, been closed off for me. And I have been a citizen for 23 years. Sure, things will change over the years and it’ll all get better,  and we’ll get rich again; we’ll forget this ever happened and it’ll all just happen again to remind us that screw-ups really wind around in a circle.

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But I will not be here. I will not contribute a single tax penny to this 85bn we’re being expected to pay because our bankers decided that one house in the USA wasn’t as good as having two.

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Unless, this imbecilic government imposes a “tax to leave”, it will never see a penny of my tax money.

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And if that makes me unpatriotic, then rip the Tricolour and the Proclamation down off my bedroom wall.

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