Kevin Myers: Failure is actually what independent Ireland has always done best. We even failed at prosperity
Published 09/02/2010 | 05:00
THE Taoiseach's recent 1916 speech, and the warm reception the references to the "heroes" of the GPO got from the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, were depressingly illuminating.
They confirm that our political and economic classes are steeped in denial and hallucination. Yes, Mother Ireland has reverted to ancient delusional habits, and is sustained by illicit bottles of poteen around the national household, labelled 1916. And whenever the old woman feels another attack of the vapours of 21st century realism attacking her, she reaches for a bottle, yet again.
A polity which feels the need to recycle ancient events as a modern inspiration is in dire trouble. That's the real lesson from the Taoiseach's rodomontade of last week. You can look at these things mythically or you can look at them literally: either way, no interpretation of the event of 1916 is of any use to us today. No grown-up anywhere else in Europe would cite one of the bloodiest and most terrible years in world history as an inspiration to us all. An Orangeman who cited the example of the 36th Ulster Division, or a modern English political leader who pointed to the sacrifice of the Accrington Pals on the first day of the Somme, as modern inspiration would be regarded as a suitable candidate for a locked ward. Irish nationalism should not be treated by any other standards.