On January 10 last year, failed property developer Simon Kelly (son of failed property tycoon, Paddy) wrote an article for a Sunday newspaper, beginning with the words, "I'm sorry." Welcome words from a member of the 'elite', one would think?
He continued: "These should be the first words you hear from any property developer. . . we have done long-term fiscal damage to Ireland which will take years of hard work to correct."
Since then, Kelly has published a book (Breakfast with Anglo) and appeared on numerous radio shows to reiterate just how "sorry" he really is for all the damage he has inflicted on the rest of us, how chastened he is by the experience and how he is equally a victim of the whole insane property bubble.
While you, me, and pretty much everyone else out there you know have been reduced to near-penury by having to pay for the bank debts of these morons, they arrogantly and inexplicably believe that they are entitled to an elitist living: one that includes mansions in their wives' names and expensive schools for their off-spring, because -- well, don't you get it peasants? They're worth it!
Last week, poor Simon told Wicklow District Court that he's finding it awfully hard to manage to have any sort of a life on €80,000 a year. He owes €17m to ACC bank (not his only debt), but he really can't see a way to pay it off -- although he might be able to manage, say €100 a week? The judge made no order for payment, citing "lack of funds".
Now, €80,000 is a pretty good income. It's an income far above what most people in this country earn. People who are diligently paying off loans, suffering from hugely reduced pay-packets, and foregoing holidays and treats and medical insurance would love to have 80 grand to play with.
But not our Simon.
You see, poor Simon has five children, his home is in his wife's name, and he pays upwards of 27 grand a year for school fees. Yes, you heard right: twenty-seven thousand.
For most of us in this country, private schools are out of
the question. I know it certainly is for my kids. A few years ago, when we thought we might be able to save a few bob, we considered putting the boy's name down for a local private secondary school. But, oh boy, were we getting above ourselves, because now we, and many of our neighbours, are terrified that there won't even be a public school nearby available to take him and his sister.
That's because many middle-class families who chose to spend their hard-earned cash on private schools for their kids (their prerogative) are now broke -- thanks to the greed and stupidity of Simon and his mates. So the first thing to go was the private school fees. Instead we're all now competing for places in the public schools, and many kids have to travel miles from their homes just to go to a "free" school that has room for them.
And the schools themselves? Well, they're suffering terribly from all the cutbacks and loss of teaching staff they've had to -- and will have to -- endure, thanks to the fact that the entire country is paying for Simon and his mates' debts re the infamous bank guarantee scheme.
But the rich -- or the obscenely in debt -- are different, and they have feelings too, you know. Last year, Simon said in an interview with Eamon Keane: "We need to avoid the blame culture. You know what Ireland is like, plain old begrudgery. If we could all be poor together, we would be happy." (He also said that "Irish people are lazy".)
Well, you know what, Simon? I have news for you. Most of us are poor right now and we're not happy. Not one little bit. Lazy? I dare you to say that to the people who are working every hour they can, at grossly reduced wages, to pay your bills.
And as for begrudgery, you're right there. Every single person I've spoken to this week begrudges you your big house (an old rectory set in five acres), your five properties you collect rent on in Liverpool, your €80,000 income and the fact that you can send your kids to expensive private schools and make the rest of us pay for it.
Every family that fears losing -- or already has lost -- their home resents the fact that you got away with your "spousal asset transfers" when you asserted, "My house is in my wife's name. There are reports that developers are transferring homes into their wives' names. Any smart developer would have done that right from the start."
Every family that has a son or daughter forced to emigrate because of you and your friends' behaviour deplores that fact that you wrote, in Breakfast with Anglo: "Many will leave the country seeking work in more productive climates like Canada and Australia. Emigration causes outcries from the media, but it is a positive move."
Ultimately, we resent the fact that you don't seem to realise that what you're doing is disgusting, immoral and pathetic. And yet you're still moaning. You complain that Nama (that's us, Joe Public) -- which you're into for about €200m -- isn't paying you a salary despite you submitting a 'business plan' to it. You're "in limbo", you say.
You're not in limbo, Simon, you're in f**king La La Land -- and so are the people who let you, and all the others like you, get away with this sort of shit.
Last week I met a friend who is seriously unwell. He has a debt of about €100,000 because he hasn't been paid for years by developers and builders like Simon.
He's terrified, stressed out and living on nothing. He has no income -- not a bean. I really fear for his health. (In Breakfast with Anglo, Simon describes a rental debt of €100,000 owed to retailer Mango as "small".)
And hearing about smug gits like Simon who are allowed to ruin the lives of so many people and yet maintain their own exalted standard of living doesn't help.
What sort of insane, upside-down banana republic are we living in at all?
It's little wonder that recent reports say nearly half the country is on tranquillisers.