This was intended to be this week’s editorial, but John O’Donoghue’s resignation put paid to it! Nonetheless I think elements of it are still relevant…
Well, that’s that. All done. And dusted. We voted yes, now where’s our prize? I seem to remember being promised more jobs. I’m happy enough with the one but at a time like this, if you’re offered more, you take them, right? And I think I was promised closer ties with Europe as well. And wasn’t there something about a Ryanair seat sale? I definitely remember Michael O’Leary giving out about something and doesn’t that usually presage a sale of some kind?
Of all the promises we’ve been made recently the only one I can think of that seems to have come true is the one about closer ties with Europe; that new H&M is lovely you know. H&M are Swedish and God knows it took a lot to get them to Cork but the Yes to Lisbon must have been the final straw. Yes to Sweden!
Forgive my cynicism but I have never felt an anti-climax like the one that followed the Yes to Lisbon vote. When two-thirds of the electorate votes for something very few understood and quite a lot didn’t really want to vote for, but felt they had no choice, it does take the ‘resounding’ out of the whole equation.
As a Yes voter from the beginning, and a supporter of the referendum re-run, I expected to feel happy about the result but somehow, the way in which it happened left a sour taste. Having beaten down all the Opposition (such as they were) and run a campaign based purely on the economy, the Government let itself down, despite the eventual victory. Although I did feel a glimmer of gladness for Brian Cowen when I saw the overwhelming look of relief on his face at the post-referendum press conference. There’s a weight off.
This Government and its term has been a lesson in disillusionment. Perhaps my feeling of being let down post-Yes is more related to the continuing disgrace of Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, or the scandals of FÁS, or the unremitting cutbacks. Perhaps it is because I’ve just realised the frightening percentage of my friends who’ve already emigrated. Perhaps it is in relation to the unrelenting economic misery and the fact that suddenly there is conflict everywhere in Irish society; I’m afraid to talk to my own mother, a teacher, in case I’ve picked up the Pick on the Public Sector bug and she disowns me.
Irish society is in crisis. During the years of the Celtic Tiger, when all the chickens that are currently coming home to roost were but fledglings, a few people had the courage to shout ‘stop’ and were themselves shouted down. The greed, cynicism and cronyism of those years and the decades since the foundation of the State (The New Gill History of Ireland is instructive) have made this country what it is today: a wonderful country in many ways, most of them down to EU membership and a few visionaries, but also a corrupt and selfish country now facing a very uncertain future.
This week’s torrential rain would put anyone in a bad mood, but I can’t help thinking it reflects the national mood perfectly. A storm is coming, and hopefully, there will be some sunshine after it.