The Irish thrive on blaming others for their woes. We blame the British, the Catholic Church and just about anyone else that saves us from embracing collective responsibility for our own missteps. But it is high time for people to grow up. We claim we want the truth, but it would appear that we can’t handle the truth.
Enda Kenny is now facing a backlash for telling people something they desperately don’t want to hear yet alone believe — we are all to blame for the economic crisis.
The Taoiseach told a gathering at the World Economic Forum in Davos that the problem with Ireland’s economy was that “people went mad borrowing” in a climate where greed saw the system spiral out of control and ultimately crash.
This is of course an oversimplification of our economic downfall, yet it is in essence relatively accurate. The poor judgement of our political leaders and the corrupt nature of certain financiers and developers was all driven by a collective giddy greed that gripped our nation at the height of the boom. The vast majority of us were crying, “more, more, more” when in fact we should have been increasing taxes and cutting our spending levels.
Speak with any rational Irish person about this and they will agree that while the levels of blame rise significantly depending on your role in the crash, we all ultimately have to take a certain amount criticism.
But to utter such words in public is tantamount to treason. This warped view of reality is being fed into and fuelled by a media that constantly uses politicians, developers and bankers as scapegoats.
Minister for Transport and Tourism Leo Varadkar condemned this cynicism and highlighted how the media offers a “sugar-coated” truth rather than exposing the real facts. He is right.
The media has become so cynical of politicians and their roles, that it is affecting the balance portrayed in the pages of our newspapers and the broadcasts of our national news.
It is so easy to blame whoever is public enemy number one at any given moment, whether it’s Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Fingleton or Sean Dunne. However, these people did not operate in a vacuum and were part of a culture that was allowed flourish during the boom years.
Admittedly Enda Kenny did make a major error of judgement, but it was not telling the truth in Switzerland. It was telling Irish people what they wanted to hear seven weeks ago when he said — “You are not responsible for the crisis.”
We all criticise politicians for feeding us lies before an election and then once in office breaking these promises. But maybe this says more about us than it does about them. .
So now as the media turns on Enda and Leo for telling the truth, at least Irish people will now have two others to blame for their woes.