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Room at the inn

If a picture paints a thousand words, then the photo (pages 12/13, Irish Independent, January 11) is a veritable dictionary. As poor Pat(ricia) trembles in fear from a letter from the tax man, as the poor are pared to the bone and as the old and sick stutter through the winter, the IMF/EU scrutineers emerge smiling from the Merrion Hotel, nicely sated and ready to shave off another slice of Irish bacon.

Who told them to grub there? Stop laughing at the back of the Dail, now! It's time to pull the metaphorical sword from the scabbard and display a few heads on the railings of Irish Life. We are four or five years into this debacle and not a single person has resigned, been sacked or charged over the grand larceny of a nation.

We are all big boys, as they say, and we all know why. Those running the asylum were also loitering about with some intent since 1980. They are unable and unwilling to bring any of the 1pc to book.

Far easier to take up time filling fat files, holding tribunals and tut-tutting: "It won't happen again." To point the finger, to sack a golden circle card carrier would be political suicide. Bottom line is that it won't happen.

So we are stuck as the sands of times trickle and the famous statute of limitations kicks in, or better still, dispatch the odd letter from the doctor telling his worship that the old memory is wonky.

Big men and women drew big salaries. This, we were told, was because they carried the ultimate cross -- responsibility. So Pat the road sweeper pulls in €20,000 and a bit of overtime, while Roger in the leather chair jollies in a tad above Barack Obama -- ah, let's be fair, round it off to between €200,000 and €400,000 per year, plus pension, expenses and a ticket to the Aviva.

So when the you-know-what hits the fan, the first to go is the little guy at the bottom, not the guy who was paid so much dosh to carry said heavy load.

Bill Bratton and Rudy Guiliani started at the bottom in New York in 1990. They shook from the bottom up, not well-protected heavy hitters in the boardrooms.

Zero Tolerance and Broken Windows flushed the blockage where it was hide-bound. The little thief gave up the guy above him, the next guy gave up the next guy and eventually it was, "Hello, Mr Big Dick, we have an arrest warrant for you".

Need an example here? Try this. When I pay my car tax with a cheque, before I can say Anglo Irish, the damn thing has cleared my bank account.

However, when we were Mercedesing and BMWing our way around the boreens a few years ago, for some reason or other, developers' cheques to various county councils got eaten by the moths in dark drawers, such was the fear of letting them see the daylight of a bank.

One question: why? Need an answer? Well, let's try Broken Windows, let's ask the guy whose drawer the cheque was stuck in. I have a feeling he might point to the supervisor across the room and he might point to the office at the end of the corridor . . . starting to follow?

We are at the mercy of the troika but if they really want to rub us up the wrong way, then walking out of a top hotel in Dublin is a great way to do it -- while poor, old Paddy laments as he wonders where he is going to find the necessary to keep the dog from the door.

John Cuffe
Dunboyne, Co Meath

Irish Independent