'Archbishop' Bruton, butt out!
When I took John Bruton to task last week it was because I thought he was becoming an annoying windbag. Now it is clear the situation is much worse. He is in fact a dangerous demagogue intent on championing the doctrine of austerity and damaging what little is left of the national morale.
Analysis, Page 4, Opinion, Page 22 Soapbox, Page 32
One might have hoped that over the years John Bruton had learned something. It might have dawned on him during the years in which he was Taoiseach and then EU ambassador to Washington, that there are dramas and crises in the lives of ordinary people which cause fear, panic and heartache.
These dramas may be a million miles away from the world that John Bruton inhabits, which is why he once thought putting VAT on children's shoes was inconsequential to anyone's household budget. But it cannot have escaped even his notice that in more recent times, almost every expenditure demand amounts to something approaching a disaster for the majority.
There are families that struggle to put enough food on the table or agonise over whether they can afford to take a sick child to the doctor. Men and women try to live from pay cheque to pay cheque – if they have a pay cheque.
And they bear this with stoicism. No fires have been lit in the streets. No bricks have been thrown. This is not because those whom John Bruton no doubt regards as "the little people" are not aware of how awful, how unfair it all is.
It is because they have a grit and determination to put their heads down and push through the recession. They work now just to survive in the hope of better times for their children. But hope is something that is in short supply.
So it was with a sense of relief that the nation seemed to cheer when President Higgins became the first to stand up and say, effectively, "This just ain't fair – there is a better way". Suddenly ministers and European leaders felt free to agree.
But not Mr Bruton. Speaking in his new capacity as President of the Irish Financial Services Centre, he told us on Friday that we must embrace the pain of austerity.
Embrace it! What the hell do you think we have been doing for the last few years, John – when you have been swanning around the world with your €134,728 pension in your arse pocket even before you pick up your salary.
It could have been different. Fine Gael would have loved Bruton to have stood for President, but he wasn't interested. There was good money to be made elsewhere. Looks like we dodged a bullet there.
Instead he is now the mouthpiece of the worst excesses of capitalism, calling for the reins to be eased up on the banks, relying instead on "bankers' consciences"; and telling Enda Kenny to scrap the legislation on abortion.
No wonder certain Irish- American bodies in Boston think he would be a much more acceptable guest at Boston College than the Taoiseach.
Last week I compared John Bruton to an arch-bishop. This was unfair – to the hierarchy, that is. And that's saying something.