Jason OMahony - Irish political blogger, Irish politics, EU politics

The Irish Psyche.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 17, 2014 in Irish Politics, Not quite serious.
The Sum Of Our Parts

The Sum Of Our Parts

It seems to me that there are certain attributes that make up the Irish psyche:

1. A deep suspicion of ideas. We’ve never been great on the abstract concept or ideology. An Irishman would think little of going from being a Communist to a Capitalist, as long as there was something in it for him. And the English were in the other camp. Even nationalism, the most powerful political concept in Ireland, has more to do with hating another country than thinking through what it means to be Irish. Yet in our core we are deeply conservative, electing the same centre-right minimum change possible duopoly at EVERY election since 1921.

2. Grouphate. Whereas we don’t do ideas well, we’re Olympic class at hating a designated group. It’s almost impossible in Ireland to separate passionate nationalism from Anglophobia. Just count how many union jacks you have seen in a single week flying in Ireland, before Elizabeth II’s visit. Or have a detailed discussion about what a united Ireland would look like with its most passionate advocates. Once you get past “the effin’ Brits this” or “the bastard Brits that” they’re out of ideas. You’ll get a few slogans at best.

3. Masochism is a national sport in Ireland. Only the Irish would come up with a phrase like “If I had your money, I’d burn me own”. A boot to the throat and a face in the cold wet mud reveals a mind that’s thinking “As soon as this bastard gets off me and walks back to the big house, I’m going to give him the glaring of his life!” Whether it’s the Brits, the IMF, the EU or our own potatoes, someone is always plottin’ agin’ us, and winning too. Curiously, we kinda like the sense of helplessness, and the idea that nothing is really in our power.

4. Hypocrisy is a form of cleverness. Waving your fist at the departing British monarch, before turning to give your son a belt for not getting down on his hands and knees in the dirt as the archbishop passes in his finery, that’s us. Whether it’s abortion, the Irish language, child abuse, neutrality or nuclear power, saying one thing and doing the other is regarded as perfectly normal to the Irish. Only an Irish emigrant can return home to Ireland and start complaining about foreigners taking Irish jobs, and be regarded as being perfectly reasonable. The saddest part is that we approach these issues like a dog with his head under the bed: because he can’t see anyone, he assumes he’s being clever, and no one can see what he’s up to. The problem is that the whole world can see the Irish arse sticking out from under the bed.

5. We are genuinely shocked when other countries act the way we do. We go to Brussels to defend our national interest (read: Money). Yet when the French or Germans do the same thing to us we are stunned, and regard them as bastards for, well, being like us.

6. Loyalty is the trait we rate above everything else, the source of our strength and most of our problems. If one of our friends told us they’d murdered someone, our gut instinct is to find out why, listening carefully for a moral nugget to latch onto to preserve the friendship. It is a noble trait which has kept our communities strong. It’s also why we hardly ever jail anyone for corruption.

7. We assume that rules are a good idea. For other people. Only in Ireland can someone shake their heads in sadness at news of “the carnage on our roads”, shake their fist at the government for “doing nothing”, and then flash their lights at other drivers to warn them not that they are speeding, but that there is a Garda car or a GATSO van parked up ahead trying to catch people breaking the speed limit. Why else would most Irish be happy to choose Catholicism as a religion, other than we have the absolution of the confessional, the “a la carte menu” of religions?

8. We will accept things in other countries that we’d never accept in Ireland. People who sniff at the minimum wage in Ireland will wait tables in Boston, London, Berlin or Melbourne. Go figure.

9. We take greater pleasure in the failure of others more sucessful than us than we do in our own success. Better us all be living in the shit than some of us break out.

10. Yet we can be pragmatic and clever (defeated the British), creative (U2, our comedians), intolerant of total nutters (A democracy since 1921, deposed the Catholic Church eventually) and this is not, in the grand scheme of things, a bad country to live in. Go figure.

Note: A variation of this post was put up in 2011.


News from Ireland 2020: Uproar in Mayo as govt spending in Mayo linked to taxes collected in Mayo.

Posted by Jason O on Mar 17, 2014 in Ireland 2020, Irish Politics, Not quite serious.

Mayo 2020: Large protests led by local county councillors and TDs have marched in Castlebar and Westport after it emerged that the County Council may have to raise a local council tax to fund local services. The row emerged after the directly elected Mayor of Mayo pointed out that under the 2017 Local Government Act, which devolved block grants to the County Council for health, education, policing and housing amongst others, if the the people of Mayo want to spend more on public services than the grants allow, then they have to be willing to fund it themselves.

“This is not rocket science.” The mayor said. “Mayo gets the same block grant per head of population as Dublin, and we decide how it is spent in Mayo. It’s true we have wider areas to cover, but we also have lower costs than Dublin. A nurse in Dublin gets paid more than a nurse in Mayo because his living costs are higher. If we want more services than other counties, we have to pay for them ourselves. We have spent years complaining about being told what to do by Dublin. Now, we are masters of our own destiny, something that some councillors seem to want to run a mile from. They’re into my office every day looking for additional spending on this GAA club or that road, but when I ask them to discuss how we pay for all this, they’re on the streets protesting against the county council that they are elected members of. Well, this isn’t the old days of the county manager. We run this county, the council and me, and it’s time they grew a pair.”

Councillor Olly Slipper (FG) condemned the mayor for “not standing up for Mayo”. “It’s a disgrace that the people of Mayo are expected to pay taxes for the services in Mayo. A disgrace! It is obvious that Mayo is a special case and should get extra funding from taxpayers in other counties, something that I think they’d be delighted to do. The mayor should be up in Dublin lobbying for other counties to pay a special Mayo tax to fund extra services in Mayo. We have a right to fairness!”

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