IT'S one of the great Irish traits. Whenever anything goes wrong, before anyone tries to fix it, there must be the sacred ritual known as the apportioning of blame.
Indeed, in many ways we get more comfort from blaming somebody for something going wrong than we do from fixing it. We often even secretly welcome things going wrong, as it is an opportunity to blame someone. Sometimes, in extreme cases, when we can't find anyone to blame, we even blame ourselves. But not often.
Think of it. There's a car crash. You get out. The first thing you do is not to check the damage or to see if the other person is OK. It is to start blaming them. (Though sometimes you might check to see that they are not seriously injured first. If they are, you might call an ambulance before you blame them.)
The Government knows this too. By coincidence, every time something bad happens in this country, someone emerges, someone who is not the Government, and someone who is not to blame for that specific situation on that day but who is to blame for something in general, and who will act as a lightning rod for that day's blame.
On the day that we pay out billions to Anglo bondholders, we find Ivor picked up by the fuzz and dangled in front of us for 24 hours or so, thus distracting us from the big picture.
We blame everyone for the boom. And we are mostly right.
We blame the banks for lending people the crazy money. We blame the Government for not regulating the banks. We blame the estate agents for talking up the property market.
We blame the developers for borrowing all the money. We blame the Government again for guaranteeing the banks.
We blame Bertie for everything, as if we never voted him in repeatedly and as if we never approved of his policies. We blame the Germans for a lot of it too.
And for a long time Enda Kenny got a lot of mileage out of blame. He got through nearly a year in office by blaming the last Government for everything, with the odd side order of casual blame directed at the troika.
Blame has been good to Kenny. So when he was out trying to impress his new posh friends in Davos, he decided to throw a bit of blame around. But he made a mistake. He blamed us.
You don't do that. In the dark of night, we may choose to blame ourselves for certain things that happened up to 2007.
But that's different. We don't take it from Kenny. And we don't take it from him in front of strangers. He let us all down. When you're talking to strangers and foreigners you don't give an inch. You blame the Germans, the EU at a push. But you don't blame us.
Presumably Enda has learnt that lesson now. It was an honest mistake in ways. You can't blame him for it. But we will anyway.