Sunday 4 December 2016

We're all in denial about corruption

Published 18/11/2010 | 05:00

Spike Milligan wanted the words "I told you I was ill" carved on to his headstone. He got his way, determined to leave a smile on people's faces for eternity. I wonder what words we could carve into the headstone of the first Irish republic. I would propose, in the spirit of the age that caused this calamity, "you can't prove I'm corrupt".

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Ireland's greatest problem is an almost genetic predisposition to denial. Self-forgiveness is the phenomenon at the heart of many of our woes. Stemming from a fatal marriage of roguish resistance to authority, born of defiance of the British, and a most insidious belief that as Catholics, Irish people have a licence to do whatever they want, so long as they enter an in-built confessional in their minds now and again, and declare themselves all right with the man above.

This national personality flaw is nothing short of a collective disability. Unless we come to terms with our illness, and seek help, we can only expect to fall victim to our essential nature over and over again.

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