Passing the estate for the first time in a while, it seemed quiet. Back in the ‘90s it had a name for rowdy behaviour and violent incidents, though sometimes I wondered if the reputation was deserved. Doing a hospital chaplain’s round for a colleague who was away on holiday, I once met a man from the estate. He sat in a chair beside a bed, his head heavily bandaged. “How are you?”
“You’re living down in the estate – is it quiet there these days?”
“Quiet! Quiet! How do you think I got this, if the place was quiet?”
I noticed that blood had seeped through the bandage on one side of his head. “What happened?”
“The son hit me with a meat cleaver”.
I refrained from asking whether the Gardai had arrested his son on a charge of attempted murder, or whether the meat cleaver was perhaps something blunter.
The man’s perspective was interesting. Was the estate quiet? No, not because anything general was going on, but because there had been a row in his particular family. His assessment was entirely governed by his own circumstances, he could not see beyond his own personal issues.
Walking around Saint Stephen’s Green this afternoon, I passed the offices of the zombie Anglo Irish Bank. Those who held sway within the doors of that institution have so far cost Ireland €25 billion, not to mention the damage they inspired in other financial institutions through their culture of spin and downright deceit. It is galling that the offices are still on Saint Stephen’s Green, a more fitting location would be on some half finished estate, or empty commercial premises. It would be difficult to disagree with the assessment of Senator Shane Ross that Ireland is run by a small coterie of people for the benefit of themselves and their friends.
There is a strange parallel between the man with the bandaged head and the bankers whose recklessness has been worse than swinging a meat cleaver; both see the world through their own eyes. The bankers used phrases such as ‘systemic importance’ when attempting to impose their perspective on the rest of the community – ‘because we are in a bad way, then everyone else must be in a bad way’, was their reasoning. The man in the hospital would never have encountered the word ‘systemic’, unless it were the name of a racehorse, but he similarly believed that his own situation was the situation that pertained in the entire estate.
The response to the man was to note his pain and to walk on; he must resolve his problems for himself. In the absence of a political meat cleaver, it’s time to walk on from the banks, whose only interest is in their own perspective.
Quote ” Everything for us comes back to the recovery of the loan” – Mike Aynesley, CEO, Anglo-Irish Bank in an interview with `Ronald Quinlan – Sunday Independent 22.08.2010. ‘Adjusting the monogrammed cufflinks on the monogrammed cuffs of his pristine white shirt’ one is left in no doubt that plus ca change, plus ca meme chose. The culture of greed (for money) lust (for power) and fear(of lossof market share) that drove this country for fifteen years and then drove it into the ground is alive and well. Customers beware, there is no forgiveness when you make a pact with a bank. Abandon hope all you who enter here.
Long live the naked emperor.
The financial, social and economic crisis brought about by the actions of the banks, developers and their political friends could have provided an opportunity to take a serious look at the sort of society we have and decide on the sort of society we want. This is being missed because the policies being followed are designed to get back to the same economic and political set of values that brought us to way we were, except this time the country will be even more unequal than it was during th Celtic Tiger days.
We could use the crisis to create a fairer, more equal and healthier society but those at the top, the group Shane Ross mentions, don’t want that – and they will make sure it doesn’t happen. They didn’t make all those “legitimate political donations” without expecting some return.
The place is an absolute disaster. The independence project is a total failure.
I vary between rage and despair.