“This country has been wrecked by about 100 people,” a local businessman put it to me during a conversation last week.
“That’s all it took to destroy an economy. A hundred people. And, on the whole, we’re just largely sitting back and taking it. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why.”
Now, the businessman in question wasn’t advocating scenes on our streets similar to the disgraceful events witnessed in England last week, nothing of the sort.
But he was articulating a view that continues to fall on deaf governmental ears: that the debt we’re being asked to repay is simply too great a burden for 4.5 million people to bear.
That ordinary people’s quality of life has been sacrificed upon the altar of speculation, to those who took a punt on Ireland Inc and got burned yet are still getting their money back, is a thorough disgrace.
If you or I went to a bookmaker to ask for a refund on the money we’d lost on a bet with him, can you imagine the reaction? You’d still be hearing his bellowing guffaws while his door swung shut behind you.
The only economic grins within Irish earshot nowadays are those of bondholders, who are draining hundreds of millions of Euro out of our economy every month.
And yet we’re reducing the numbers of Special Needs Assistants in our primary schools and cutting funding to Community Development Projects.
As pointed out by my journalistic colleague and anti-bailout campaigner Diarmuid O’Flynn, “we’ve just paid €444,260,916 in failed bank bonds (and) next month it will come to a whopping €4,299,705,436”.
That’s almost €5 billion, just under half of last year’s national income tax take, and €1 billion more than what Ireland accrued in the oft-referenced Corporation Tax for the whole of 2010.
These figures, as UCD Professor Morgan Kelly said in Kilkenny recently, demonstrate why we have been reduced to “an EU protectorate”.