Everything is going to plan, to hell with the human cost
Europe is cheering us on and patting us on the head as we slowly dismantle, brick by brick, the civilised society we have built over the last 50 years, writes Brendan O'Connor
WE were told daily during the economic boom that prosperity was coming at the expense of our souls. That wasn't quite true. It turned out that the loss of our souls would come later. The loss of our souls came only when the boom ended.
So now we find ourselves engaged in the grim process of dismantling, brick by brick, the society we had built over the last 50 years. Not a day goes by that we don't hear of a further dismantling of our hard-won systems of health, education and services for the vulnerable. The very thing that seemed to make Ireland a civilised place, that gave us a heart and soul that the evils of prosperity could never erode, is now being destroyed. We could be looking at no less than the end of society.
The funny thing about prosperity and the alleged greed of the boom years is that they actually enhanced society in Ireland. As well as all the other functions it performed, money became a glue that held us together a bit more. Despite what you might be led to believe by a largely left-wing media, when this country had money, we spent hugely on the less well-off and the vulnerable. And as cynical as we might all have been about the noblesse oblige of the new affluent, charities in Ireland boomed in the gala-ball climate. Just ask anyone running a charity now how they feel. They will tell you they would love to have those days back. In those days, as a country, and as individuals, we felt more of a duty to the less well-off, than we do now, in the desperation of poverty. Now it's every man for himself in this country and, what's more, if our neighbour seems to have a bit more than us, we resent him.