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Ian O'Doherty: Why do we salute the people who have made us emigrate?

It was one of the definitive images of the economic crisis we have seen so far. A man at a job fair in Cork, choking back tears as he spoke of his humiliation at being forced to emigrate.

What made this guy so different to all the other tens of thousands of young Irish people who have been forced to leave these shores?

Well, I suppose it was the fact that he wasn't young, he was middle-aged.

"I've worked since I was 16," he said in a moving and eloquent news item on Wednesday evening.

This wasn't a student or graduate who suddenly found that what they had studied for was no longer a viable career option. This wasn't someone who was using emigration as a "lifestyle choice" as Michael Noonan so brazenly put it.

No, this was a man, presumably married and with a family, who has been completely betrayed by his country. Working since he was 16, dutifully fulfilling his taxation obligations and now ... nothing. Just the vague and forlorn hope that maybe another country can give him an opportunity denied to him by his own.

It was a criminal indictment of what has happened to Ireland, and an even more searing indictment of the traitors in Government who allowed it to happen.

In fact, it really brought home just what a squalid little country this has turned out to be -- and the people responsible for the crisis just don't seem to give a damn.

The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking they were hallucinating if they went to the RDS last weekend.

On one hand, there was a jobs fair, which attracted more than 15,000 people. People who have realised that this country no longer has anything to offer them but misery and hardship.

Then, incredibly, at the same time and in the same building, those bastards in Fianna fail (I just read over this piece and realise I had written the second part of their name with a small 'f', but it still seems appropriate), who wreaked the most damage on Ireland since the Famine, were holding their ard fheis.

And proving that they really still don't get it, two of the main architects of our misery, Brian Cowen and the Weasel Ahern, both turned up as if nothing had happened.

Ahern, who you will remember telling people who correctly warned that the economy was over-heating should kill themselves, and who has displayed all the conscience and sense of guilt of a sociopath, was even given an ovation by some of the idiots present.

What the Hell is wrong with these people?

In Iceland, they are prosecuting their former Prime Minister Geir H Haarde for his role in the banking crisis that so very nearly destroyed his country and, as things stand, he won't be the only Icelandic politician to face the music.

Here in Ireland we do things differently ... .

Back in the dim and distant good old days of, oh, about 2005/2006, myself and the group of lads who would drink together had one rule -- nobody talks about property prices.

Everyone I knew was earning more money simply because there was more work on offer, not because their bosses were showering them with free lucre.

We worked hard and we played hard and the idea that we are somehow responsible for this mess, as people in Fianna Fáil would have us believe, is truly grotesque.

I don't know anyone who bought holiday homes in Bulgaria or Turkey; I don't know anyone who bought more than one house and became an amateur landlord.

In fact, I wouldn't want to know any of these naïve speculators.

After all, I always found it grimly ironic that the green shoots of the fight for modern Irish independence began with the struggle against the landlords.

Fast forward a few hundred years, we have achieved independence and for some people the first goal is ... to become a landlord.

And that's one of the contributory factors to us now, in turn, losing our independence -- not to Britain this time, but to the Troika.

If this was Italy or Greece, the people responsible for this Hell we're currently enduring would be hanging from lamp posts right now. But further proving that there is no greater oxymoron in the English language than the phrase 'The Fighting Irish' we duly roll over and simply grumble into our pints and think that we can smash capitalism by making stupid, pointless, self aggrandising gestures outside the Central Bank.

Although I must say I laughed like a drain listening to the Occupy Dame Street people squeal with indignation about being evicted from their site. It was the happiest I've been all week.

My wife was working in New York last weekend and went to Ellis Island, where she had a list of names of relatives who had emigrated to check out.

There was a time when such an exercise would have been one of wistful nostalgia, but seeing so many people desperately trying to get out of the country today brought a certain sense of déjà vu to the whole thing.

Interestingly, she went into iconic clothing store Yellow Rat Bastard and bought me a few t-shirts.

The one I'm wearing as I write this says: "Damn, I got poor quick."

I think we all did.

Irish Independent