On Thursday here in Ireland, a small report was released called the Mahon Report. Now I’m not going to go into what it was or what it investigated, enough has been written about that. What I’m going to comment on is what I feel it says about us as a nation, the implications and I’m going to hypothisise on if things have and will change. The following strongly worded paragraph sums up the national psyche in my view:
“The general apathy on the part of the public towards that corruption meant that there was insufficient pressure from the public to compel their representatives to take firm action to curtail or eliminate it” is a most damming statement. Mahon attempts to allow some public wiggle room by saying that “this apathy may in turn have been attributable to a lack of understanding regarding the corrosive and destructive nature of corruption” but in my view, it’s more down to the lack of actual caring. Talk to most people on the street today and they’re fine complaining about the issue, but ask them what they’re prepared to do about it and you get an awkward stare as they try and find their excuse as to why they don’t have time to do anything or you get the age old ‘question’ – “sure what can we do about it? They’re all the same.” Unfortunately in one sense, that annoying cliché is slightly true in Ireland. But as a small island nation, we could look to Iceland for inspiration. Terrible regulation and the banks ruined their economy. They’ve voted in a completely new style of government. So change can come, but people must really want it.
Another case in point for me would be the treatment of the ‘Occupy’ movement. These were people who took to the streets to fight the injustice people complained about on the radio airwaves, on the news, to the papers, to friends/family/neighbours. If you disagree with them – fine. But the hatred that was being thrown at them towards the end of their days in both Dublin and Cork was excessive. They did more to try and fight the injustices put upon us by the banks and successive governments than most people will do in a lifetime. They were willing to make a stand and when I hear and heard people saying they were unemployed, hippies, freaks etc., it bugged the bejaysus out of me. People do realise it takes many different types of people to make a society yeah? And that some will make different choices to others? Choosing to make a stand against the unfair capitalist society we currently live in was extremely admirable. Why do others feel the need to be such dicks and talk down the people who did this?
The Mahon Report will change little unfortunately. People immediately complained about the cost of it (without acknowledging that it brought in more money to that state than the state spent) and the people implicated in it of course denied everything. Vincent Browne succinctly sums it up when he says that “corruption never gets punished here because there is no will to do so. And ex-ministers found to have been corrupt will keep their pensions until their dying day.” If there was real national will, that would translate to political will as people would be onto their elected representatives to change the system. The evidence here of course is the fact that Michael Martin backed Bertie to the hilt, defending his ‘integrity’ and his ‘truthfulness’ during the last years of the Mahon Tribunal. The same Michael Martin now wanting to expel Bertie from the Fianna Fáil party for his behaviour.
An interesting way to question and look at this whole political malaise and societal disinterest would be to ask a philosophical question: Have the Irish People as a whole been turned completely ‘Docile’? Is it too controversial to ask if our ‘discipline’ by the British so severe that we’re now a politically docile people with only the few willing to challenge authority or fight? Or has time now elapsed enough to point the finger squarely at we, the Irish nation, have we just slipped into docility? Too few care, too many don’t. When the power rests with the few to make changes for the uninterested many, can the many honestly complain when things like the banking crisis occur?