19 November 2010

"Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!"

The photo above shows a beggar in Dublin, quite possibly an immigrant drawn by the dream of prosperity, being ignored by IMF officials and leaning against a letterbox built in British times, painted green instead of the old British red. The photo symbolises the state of the Republic of Ireland today.

If Oliver Hardy were an Irishman and around today he'd probably be standing outside the Dáil or wherever Irish government officials are meeting with officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Dublin today with a banner proclaiming his immortal words 'Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!' Very likely he'd change the 'me' into 'us'. The photo below, with Stan Laurel standing and Oliver Hardy on the ground, is particularly apt since much of the mess was brought about by speculators building houses that nobody can afford to buy.
'Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!'

I've never understood economics but I know that my native country is in the worst mess it has ever been in since the Irish Free State, now the Irish Republic, was established in 1922, except for the brief but devastating Civil War that followed almost immediately after independence. Bankers, politicians and speculators made huge gambles but lost. For the most part the money they lost wasn't their own but that of the taxpayers and depositors in the banks.

What has angered Irish people enormously is that those who created the mess have, in many cases, been given huge bonuses and allowed to walk into the sunset. Politicians have a plethora of salaries and allowances and multiple pensions in some cases. Unlike other citizens, they don't have to wait till they are 66 to draw these.

Frank Duff, the founder of the Legion of Mary, was a great believer in symbolic acion. In other words, if you see a need you start doing something that is possible for you to do. It might be as simple as tidying up your room. If politicians in Ireland from all parties announced that they were reducing their salaries, that no one could draw more than one salary, that they would draw only one pension, and that when they were no longer serving politicians and at least 66, it would send a message that they too were prepared to share the hardship that faces everyone in the Republic of Ireland. I don't believe that any politician in Ireland set out deliberately to bring the country to its needs. I don't believe that they are corrupt, though some have been and have paid the price, including time in prison for a couple. But it is very clear that the present government, elected in 2007, no longer has the support of the people. Reputable polls have shown consistently that they haven't. I recall previous governments resigning when it was clear that they were no longer competent.

Many young couples are left with huge mortgages while many newly-built houses remain empty.

The UK has offered to give £7billion in loans or guarantees towards the £70billion apparently needed to ge the Irish economy working again.

Matt, the brilliant front-page cartoonist of The Daily Telegraph, linked the loan/guarantee by the UK with the announcement of the engagement of Prince William of England and Catherine Middleton:


Crux Fidelis said...

A pedant writes: It's actually Prince William of Wales (not England).

Otherwise, full marks.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

I stand corrected! I was being a bit pedantic myself in referring to 'Catherine' Middleton instead of to 'Kate', the nickname by which she is much better known. However, if William ever succeeds to the throne he will be, among other things, King of England, King of Canada, possibly King of Australia, though probably not. But he will not be King of Wales!

I wish William and Kate much joy and happiness in their married life and may their marriage grow stronger each day.