Sunday, 11 October 2009


Brian, please find the nearest exit...

As Leinster House twitters about FF talks with the Greens, we've already hit rock-bottom...

WE DO not mean to be hurtful but even as they agonised, held hands, rubbed worry beads and emoted, the Green debate was utterly irrelevant to the realities we face.

You see, the truth of the matter is that the Republic is now in such 'a state of chassis' it almost does not matter who governs us.

Central bankers, economists from stockbroking houses and the political class may dodge and weave but the ongoing pantomime of politics as it is practised in Leinster House cannot hide one fundamental truth.

Ireland is at the edge of an economic ground zero-style scenario, Mr Cowen, and frankly, I do not know how you or, more importantly, the rest of us are going to get out of it.

Lest you be in any way unclear as to what we mean we'll simplify it for you.

The Exchequer is now as solvent as a Liam Carroll company whilst our citizens, thanks to your property driven boom, are the most indebted punters in the world.

The banks are as bankrupt as the punters whilst our civil service elite, who played such a critical role in bankrupting the State in their own interests, quite visibly care a great deal more about their own self-interest rather than the national interest.

Meanwhile, as distinct to having a position of national unity like that of 1987, the state of civil war between the private and the public sector is escalating to the point where we soon may have neither gardai in our streets or nurses in our hospitals.

Of course, these minor issues were rather sidelined by last week's convulsions over some halfwit country solicitor from Cahirciveen who has been caught with a snout dripping with goodies from the public trough.

Still even that particular Restoration comedy could not disguise the fact that we are in a pretty old pickle, Brian.

You haven't got enough revenue to pay the bills but every time you raise taxation the take collapses.

It's all getting terribly like that mammoth trapped in a tar pit which is doomed to sink slowly if it does nothing and to drown even more swiftly should it thrash about in some desperate, futile attempt at escape.

And now, astonishingly, in the midst of this, the political world spent the rest of the week waiting to see if a hundred madcap, anti-blood sports activists at the weird Green papal conclave would bring the Government, the Budget, Nama and the rest of the whole kit and caboodle down.

Sorry, Brian, but we simply can no longer afford to live in a state that even the famous Paddy bashers of Punch couldn't make up.

Of course, you will argue that if the Government falls, we will be in an even worse pickle. But the truth of the thing is that we're in such a mess right now it's actually hard to see how the collapse of Nama and an election slap bang in the middle of yet another 'most critical Budget ever' would make much of a qualitative difference.

Instead, truth to tell, no matter what happens with the Greens, we are swiftly reaching the point where, like Mr O'Donoghue, you simply have to go.

Just like banking, a school of politics which is without any sense of moral hazard is a recipe for bankruptcy and the time has come, Brian, for you guys to experience payback, punitive damages, reparations or whatever you want to call it.

Of course, you may be correct in saying it will do us no practical good but like a satirical pamphlet in some wretched fascist state, it would provide us with secret warmth and a small degree of self- respect for having at least overthrown those who have brought us to this point.

In truth, looking at you and your abject Cabinet last week, we began to suspect you secretly knew the noose was tightening.

Like little fish caught in a river, you still skitter and leap vainly for freedom but no matter how vibrantly you splash around, throwing accusations of political opportunism at the Opposition, the net of history is laid and now all that's left to do is lift it, scoop them out and leave the undulating forms to twitch on the bank.

Mind you, the current situation is a bit embarrassing for me, too, for I was once attracted to you, Brian.

In fairness, I was young and still a bit naive and, as you know, the affair was never consummated. But during the era of Bertie, you did sometimes appear to be an isolated, if self-styled, Republican in a culture of self-service rather than public service.

Of course, we can all make mistakes like taking politicians, judges and mandarins at the value they so loudly ascribe to themselves in public. Incredibly, however, and to my shame, I had had a second fling with Mr Cowen.

It was only a one-night stand, but whilst some were horrified by your "ring the f**kers, sort it out" reply to yet another quango-led debacle, we cheered: "That's the boy, Biffo. It's gone past time to put a bit of the stick into the game."

However, even as Mr Cowen basked in the dying embers of our regard, he was playing ducks and drakes over Rody Molloy.

Ironically in a very real way, Mr Cowen was not lying when he praised Mr Molloy for, by the standards of patriotism and public service as they are practised by this morally debased administration, he is a perfect icon.

Mr Cowen's political concubines still claim he is a terribly unlucky man. However, Ryan Tubridy killed that concept stone dead on the Late Late when he noted you were paid to have foresight. The problem with foresight, however, is that it's rather like Lee Trevino's "the harder I practice the luckier I get" response to the claim that he was a lucky golfer.

Sadly the evidence suggests that hard practice was not a feature of the Cowen era. Instead Mr Cowen appears to have been a far more enthusiastic practitioner of the public service ethos of nine-to-five and then off with the lads for a few beers or a spot of mutual adoration -- and we're being nice when it comes to that analogy.

Of course, when it comes to the spoilt, lazy poster boy for the worst generation of leaders since the elite who sold our independence in 1801, the love is now gone.

In your soft era, the loot was shared around to such an extent that we were the only country in Europe whose teachers thought holiday villas in Croatia were a human right.

However, the real beneficiaries were that school of social partners, mandarins and ministers who have never stood for anything outside of the protection of their interests.

Sadly you are now learning the hard way that, like all mercenaries, once the pay stops coming in, those who were hired to protect and serve the public have become the enemies of the people.

Still, even as we gape in astonishment at your feat in creating a state that not even FG or the IMF wants to govern, you might still be of some service. Seeing as you've prated about it for all of these years, it is now time for FF to engage in their own version of the Tallaght strategy, stand aside and allow a new Fine Gael Labour Green Rainbow to attempt to save us all.

Article by John Drennan - Sunday Independent

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