| 3°C Dublin

Michael O'Doherty: I won't shed a tear for fat cats, they got what they deserved

Am I the only person in Ireland who's not shedding a single tear for our beleaguered property developers? They gambled, for a long time they hit a winning streak but, as it always does, it came to an end. Now all we're asking is that they stop blaming everyone else, and honour their IOUs.

There's a misconception that property speculation requires some special talent.

Well it doesn't. Writers need talent, as do chefs, actors, musicians and sports people. I've lost count over the past decade of the number of barely articulate, simple-minded cretins that I've met, flashing their cash in nightclubs and bragging about their latest wheels, their collection of watches and their pad in Marbella.

You'd hardly believe most of them could have held down a proper job and, of course, they didn't. That's because they were 'in property', and to become a property developer, all you really needed was to get lucky by buying your first property at the right time.

So it became the chosen profession for those who wanted to get rich quick, and didn't have the talent to do it by any other means. And for so long it seemed easy and difficult to resist. Like an old tart asking you if you were 'looking for business' as you walked innocently by, the property market was there to lure the weak.

But should we feel any more sympathy for the vast majority of developers than we do for boozed-up chancers trying to get rich at a roulette table?

When your winning streak runs out in Vegas, and you pawn your personal belongings in a frenzied attempt to stay afloat, do we expect the casino to take pity on you, reimburse the money you gamble? No, you'd be frog-marched out of your hotel suite, and tossed into the gutter without a moment's thought.

So why feel sorry for those who gambled on the property market, as they now attempt to squirm out of their responsibilities?

Bernard McNamara is obviously one of the more honourable developers to be experiencing hard times, but is it just me who chuckled in disbelief at the attempts to make him out to be a victim? A friend was quoted as saying that he had to leave the country because "he couldn't go for a walk without bumping into some of the people who are pursuing him to the ends of the Earth."

To throw some perspective at that heart-wrenching bit of prose by adding some omitted details -- he couldn't leave his multi-million euro mansion without getting hassled, so was obliged to go to his multi-million euro villa in Marbella to avoid bumping into people whose money he'd lost. Doesn't your heart bleed?

To coin a popular phrase, exactly what part of the term 'personal guarantee' do they not understand? If you gamble on your ability to get rich, and you lose, then you have to pay up. And until you do, you can't expect any sympathy.

Hey, is it Sile? But she's got no lines

It was a latex, blow-up, Sile Seoige doll. That's because she had been, as we call it in the trade, 'photoshopped'.

We're all guilty of it.

When someone agrees to do a photoshoot, you want to keep them happy.

And thanks to the miracle of Photoshop, spots can be removed, lines around eyes softened, furrowed brows evened out.

Everyone knows we do it, and are delighted that we make them look good. The secret is moderation.

But when you see someone with their skin uniformly golden brown, not a single line on their face, and a bizarre soft glow around extremities, as though their arms are melting into the wall, then you know that the photographer has gone too far.

And as Sile gazed at her Barbie-doll features at the weekend, she probably wasn't happy, but can console herself with the fact that it could have been worse.

Spare a thought for those who appear on the front page of a newspaper, not airbrushed, but pixelated. A design tool that blurs your face into unrecognisable, fuzzy squares, it can only mean one thing -- you're a sex offender or hardened criminal.

And that's the one kind of realisation that you don't want to wake up to.

What our politicians would say if an earthquake hit us

It's ironic that just as the collapsing property empires of developers are hitting the news here, so should a real property collapse hit Haiti.

It should give some perspective to those who whine about how their portfolios have lost half their value, when you see the poor Haitians quite literally losing their own property portfolio (one corrugated iron shack) in one 90-second earthquake.

Irish developers should count their blessings that having to downsize from an seven-bedroom D4 mansion to a three-bedroom D4 penthouse is the worst of their worries.

And we should all be grateful that trudging through a few inches of snow and doing without running water for a few days is the worst that mother nature can throw at us.

But most of all, we should thank our lucky stars that we don't live on a geological fault line.

As can you imagine our current Government trying to deal with an earthquake, when it can't even deal with 10 days of low temperatures?

Minister for Earthquakes John Gormley would insist that he's "not in charge of earthquakes".

Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea would explain that he hadn't declared a state of emergency because "no one had asked me to".

And Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey would issue a statement that he couldn't rebuild the roads because we didn't have enough sand stockpiled to make concrete.

From a sun lounger in the Caribbean.


Privacy