Monday 22 October 2018

Kevin Myers: We're addicted to house building, but why indulge it in South Africa?

Kevin Myers

I HAD initially thought that if there were anything more absurd, in the asylum that is this Republic, than pink-skinned Irish people toiling in the midday sun of Cape Town, building houses for watching Africans, it remained in its padded cell, howling at the moon. But not so, for Niall Mellon, who organised these house-building capers, is now proposing that unemployed Irish teachers be redeployed to Kenya, on salaries of €12,000 to €15,000.

"And it wouldn't cost the Irish taxpayer one cent," he declared, "because it would come out of the Irish Aid budget." I see. And who pays for the Irish Aid budget? Paraguay?

Just about all the grisly, patronising pieties that have bedevilled Irish life down the years are embodied in the Niall Mellon Trust, which currently has 600 Irish people building houses in South Africa. Why do so many Irish people think that they have house-building skills that Africans lack? To be sure, we do seem to have a house-building addiction, which is why we've built about a zillion unwanted houses here in Ireland; but that's no reason for us to indulge this frenzied addiction of ours in South Africa.

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