Written on: 13. 9. 2011 in the category: Featured news

Our politicians who steered the ship onto the iceberg have walked away with fortunes

A national narrative is not just about the past. It also enables the present, for it contains a covert and coded morality. This is why I go on and on, endlessly, about the 1916 Rising.

It was at its core an evil event, wholly unjustified by the circumstances that existed in Ireland, with many deplorable outcomes. If you make that affair the “start” of authentic independent Irishness, then you cannot be surprised that the resultant political ethos is as lacking in a core morality as was the Rising itself.

The state which is now amply rewarding the architects of our financial ruin truly is a right and proper heir to 1916. Senior civil servants such as Rody Molloy and Patrick Neary, who should at the very least have been sacked and questioned by the Garda fraud squad, were instead allowed to take early retirement, with tax-free golden handshakes of several hundred thousands, and annual pensions of around ¿150,000 each.

And now Dermot McCarthy, another central player in the decisions which have brought poverty to hundreds of thousands, is taking an early retirement package of ¿570,000, and an annual pension of ¿142,000. Our elected politicians who steered the ship onto the iceberg have walked away with comparable fortunes.

To have given civil servants a warning of a cut in their future pensions if they stayed at their job, and to have allowed them retain their extravagant benefits if they retired early, would have been an act of deranged stupidity in a prosperous society: in a country that is in receiver-ship, it was simply criminal.

But that’s what you can expect when you build a political morality on the quicksand that is 1916. Instead of letting that deplorable tragedy lie in the pages of history, it is endlessly being re-invented as a polit-ical morality play, in which the main instigators are always turned into victims.

Do you understand the following very simple observation? If you make a hero of a schoolmaster who not merely trains his boys in the ways of physical violence, but also leads these under-age lads to turn their guns on their fellow citizens, do not expect morally-consistent society to result. If a polity teaches reverence for a Marxist totalitarian who wanted a world-wide class-war, and who gave a gun to his 14-year-old son to go out and shoot people, a law-abiding, respectable society will not be the outcome.

I have repeatedly written about this, and to no avail. Let me repeat it now. The conspiratorial narrative of Tone-Pearse-Connolly-Collins remains the core of Irish nationalism, even though the consequences of their demented creed have always been civil war, bloodshed and failure. In the deranged ethos that has resulted, we can see criminal financial greed, at the highest level, being rewarded. The Hospital Sweeps — founded and run by gunmen — was the greatest financial scam in the history of the State until the Celtic Tiger — though it was nearly matched by De Valera’s theft of the millions raised for “Ireland” in the US.

The great hero of secular Ireland, Douglas Gageby, editor of ‘The Irish Times’, in 1974 was the co-author of The Irish Times Trust, which was founded the day before capital gains tax came into effect. This personally netted him around £350,000 tax free: around ¿32.5m in 2007 values. He duly concealed the tax-free nature of the deal from his readers, and it took the newspaper and its underpaid staff 20 years to pay off. Is it any wonder that during his decades as editor he never tried to investigate the financial squalor that was Charles Haughey, or that his pol-corr, John Healy, was by a wide margin Haughey’s most fulsomely servile admirer?

The grotesque rewarding of civil servants and polit-icians who have laid waste to Ireland’s finances is not some depart-ure from a civilised norm, but it is the latest expression of the moral dystopia that has ruled in Ireland since inde-pendence. This dystopia has always resulted in economic failure and mass emigration: always. Each cycle of success — usually brief — has concluded with ruin of some kind. One single statistic is key. The population of every single state in western Europe, including Northern Ireland, increased by 40pc between 1920 and 2000. The population of independent Ireland rose by just 20pc. Twenty years before, it wouldn’t have risen at all.

In addition to this State producing chronic failure, it also fails to perceive this failure as intrinsic to its political culture. Suicidal grandiosity is part of that culture. Suicidal grandiosity lay at the core of the Rising. Suicidal grandiosity gave us the Economic War with our only trading partner, the British Empire, a conflict which it didn’t notice but almost destroyed Ireland. Suicidal grandiosity led to De Valera’s condolences upon Hitler’s death. Suicidal grandiosity caused Haughey to fund the formation of the Provisional IRA. Suicidal grandiosity killed the Celtic Tiger. And suicidal grandiosity is now enabling an entire generation of senior civil servants to waddle off into the sunset with millions of money borrowed from our grandchildren.

It is all perfectly disgusting; but it is not remotely new.