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A man who divided us like no other since Keano

EVERY decade has its own iconoclastic, polarising figure. The last great divisive figure was Roy Keane, who split the country completely when he dramatically left the training camp in Saipan during the World Cup of 2002.

Since the bust, that figure has become Sean Quinn.

In both cases there is a strong and passionate argument to be made that the person at the centre of the national debate is either a hero or a villain.

Quinn, believe it or not, is a more complex character than Keane. He has been portrayed by some as the man who almost single-handedly revived the north-west of the country by creating thousands of jobs, and by others as the man who almost single-handedly brought the country to financial ruin and is now at the centre of a criminal conspiracy to defraud the nation.

Those who support Quinn do so for two reasons. Firstly they admire him for his rags to riches story and for the of thousands of jobs he created in one of the poorer regions of the country. The second reason is more subtle: they see him as cipher for their own lives and their own financial problems.

All around the country there are people who sincerely believe that if the Celtic Tiger had taken one last gasp they would have been able to save themselves from financial ruin.

Sean Quinn really believed that if his last, but most lethal gamble on Anglo shares, at the height of the financial crisis, had worked he would have ridden out the storm and his empire would have emerged intact.

Those who don't support him believe he represents everything that is rotten in the state. A man who outrageously and blatantly was in contempt of court orders restraining the stripping of multi-million-euro assets from his family's international property group.

They see a man who bled his insurance company dry to feather his and his family's various nest eggs across the globe.

Quinn's critics tend to believe that his entire business was essentially a mirage -- just as the Celtic Tiger was.

Those who support Quinn are, by-and-large, good hardworking people who see him as a wealth creator.

Normally most citizens, including myself, are on the side of wealth creators, but this case is different.

He is not a wealth creator; he is a wealth destroyer.

Ireland's once "richest" man whose empire was worth more than €5bn at the height of the boom has given business people in this country a bad name.

He deserves his time in jail.

Irish Independent