Let’s be honest. As a nation, we don’t trust one another. We constantly believe that some “click” or golden circle somewhere is always getting the better over us. On the flip side, we are always trying to get into the self same circles, whether it is the group who “really” run the local GAA or merely trying to get a builder to do something for us without the VAT that everyone else pays.
It permeates our society, to the extent that whilst we are happy to remove honest politicians from office (Dick Spring, Michael McDowell, Joe Higgins) you’d struggle to name any dishonest politicians that we voted out for being dishonest. At the last local elections, we re-elected two councillors, one who had been jailed for corruption, the other named in the tribunals. It’s our culture.
It raises the question as to whether we are actually capable of running a straight country, given the culture. We know that we have to run the country honestly, we’re just not willing to do it ourselves. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that we get very comfortable with each other, and loyalty is the trait, above every thing else, that is respected the most in Ireland. It is also one of our greatest obstacles to progress as a nation.
Imagine if An Bord Plenala was made up of Finnish, Danish and Swedish planners. Imagine if we handed Anglo-Irish over to a team of FBI agents and US Attorneys.
Even if they couldn’t get a prosecution, we’d feel better about it.