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Good riddance to the sweet old couple who tried to hoodwink a nation

IT seemed, at first, like the final insult to the Irish people. Four bailiffs, on behalf of an Irish bank, backed up by members of the gardai, moved in to evict a couple from their home, on which they'd fallen into arrears with their repayments.

It wasn't just any couple, however -- Brendan and Asta Kelly, 71 and 63 years of age respectively, married 40 years, were now being thrown out on the street, their fate witnessed by passers-by, camera phones at hand to record the gruesome event.

The onlookers were heard to be in tears, and as they shouted at the bailiff and gardai to desist, they seemed to speak for us all, as did Brendan himself, who defiantly stood up to the bailiffs who tried to move the couple off the premises. "I'm here on behalf of the people of Ireland, this will not happen again," he shouted, words which seemed to articulate the rage of the Irish public against the incompetent, greedy bankers who brought this country to its knees, and are now punishing good, innocent folk.

Except for one or two tiny little details about these "innocent folk"...


Firstly, the couple had been forewarned about the impending eviction two years previously, yet they still treated it as a shock.

And when they planted a tent outside their house, it struck some as a bit of a publicity stunt -- after all, surely there was somewhere else they could go? Of course there was, because the Kellys were no ordinary couple who had fallen on hard times.

In fact, they owned up to 31 properties across Ireland and the UK, most of them bought well before property prices went stratospheric, yet none of which they seemed willing to sell to cover the €2m they owed on their own palatial abode. And despite the two-year warning about being evicted, it didn't seem to occur to them to vacate the tenants from one of the 31 properties as a contingency plan. And in their story, we find a microcosm of the last 10 years.

The fact that we've been hoodwinked by the very last type of person that a decent society turns against -- an apparently sweet old couple of pensioners -- is perhaps the most telling thing of all.