Time never stops. It’s not just a year’s end but also the end of a decade. It’s strange how memories are defined by absences. It is the gaps around the table, in the home and among gatherings of friends. We remember ‘those gone before us.’
Death has yielded his power on so many occasions over the past decade. The older we get the more often we brush against his cloak; or rather the more often he brushes against our cloaks!
Ten years ago we were in the midst of the crash. Money borrowed by governments, bankers, developers and their ilk lost its taste. The euro was in dire straits with serious threats to its survival. Banks were in crisis. Countries were threatened with civil unrest as the economic crisis worsened.
Here, the bank bailout was followed by the country bailout, whether we liked it or not. Unelected European Bank leaders threatened Ireland, and the politicians succumbed. It was left to citizens to pick up the pieces.
The acronym PIGS was back in fashion – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain were in the spotlight. PIIGS was also mentioned, with Ireland thrown in. The irony was that those who were responsible for the mess remained in power. It was the same politicians and the same bankers who drew up the cutback plans and introduced a draconian phase of austerity.
The only ones to benefit, as per usual, were those in power. The ultimate price was paid by some people for whom the pressure of austerity became too much. The other irony is that neither politician nor banker has ever been really brought to book on the whole issue of the economic crash.
We have had a few legal shemozzles masquerading as efforts to ‘find out what really happened.’ Years on, the same boys are in the same seats, warming their bank accounts as only they know how. And lawyers get paid!
Outrageous taxes were thought up by an out-of-touch EU and implemented by an obedient Irish Government. From water taxes to property taxes, people were crippled.
Another decade and the real question is, what has changed? The only truthful answer is nothing. A few faces might have been replaced. Same folk, different coats.
We look back on the past year and see the lack of sincerity from the Taoiseach down. Apparently everyone in Fine Gael knew that Dara Murphy had been working in Europe for two years while getting his salary and expenses as a TD. He cannot be questioned now because he has resigned.
Leo Varadkar is the person who should be hauled before a tribunal on this issue. How dare he think for one second that he is beyond questioning. It was he who ordered Murphy back to vote in a Dáil vote to save the Government and then criticised him for working in Europe.
It is our acceptance of this shoddiness that makes politics what it is today. For some reason we seem to accept the level of disrespect shown by the Taoiseach to the people of the country by not dealing with this issue head on. This angers many people, especially as it emanates from the man who, as Social Welfare Minister, was keen to highlight fraud perpetrated by welfare recipients.
This is not to accuse Dara Murphy of fraud but rather to question the sincerity of the Taoiseach in allowing it to happen until it was made public. Fine Gael used Murphy when and as it suited them, end of story. That is where the dishonesty is.
We tend to forget that every government announcement – be it money for roads, infrastructure or grants – is taxpayers’ money. The largesse shown by some politicians is laughable when announcements are made. Somehow, we should be grateful for having our own money spent on projects we needed.
Hopefully 2020 will bring with it some of its associated vision. Here’s hoping. Imagine if politicians revisited the work of the Troika – and corrected all the unjust taxes. Dream on, I hear you say! New Year’s resolution – in any case, or rather, every case, remember that love is all that matters. Noli timere.