Friday 23 February 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Pigeons aren't the real cause for red faces

The Taoiseach thanking us for accepting our fate is embarrassing

Minister for Health James Reilly
Minister for Health James Reilly

Eilis O'Hanlon

'BADLY researched, shoddy journalism." That was Ryan Tubridy's response to a New York Times article last week which claimed that the Irish were so poor following the recession that we were shooting and roasting pigeons for food. "They should hang their heads ... for embarrassing us as a nation."

It was at this point, pigeons aside, that the time surely came to shout "whoa". Embarrassing us as a nation? Who says? I certainly wasn't embarrassed by it, any more than I was embarrassed by the Anglo tapes, another incident this year which was supposed to have brought national scandal on our heads. Neither of these incidents had anything to do with most of us. It was simply another manifestation of the national habit of wanting other people not to think badly of us. Nothing wrong with that either, unless it makes us do stupid things in order to avoid embarrassment.

If we're going to be embarrassed, after all, it ought to be because the Taoiseach is going on national television tonight to thank us for so meekly accepting our fate that eventually the wolves, having helped themselves to the tastiest lambs in the flock, promised to go away. At least until the next time. He's going to do so at a time when tens of thousands still emigrate every year, hundreds of thousands have seen their standard of living dramatically reduced, and we're all working harder for less pay as our crippling, soul-sapping debts don't seem to be going down at all.

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