Fergal Keane: Completely blind to the brutal reality of how Ireland is (mis) governed

In my previous article I wrote about RTE journalist Fergal Keane’s view that Ireland’s history of political violence was one factor that has prevented Irish citizens from taking to the streets in response to the economic collapse.

Here, in his own words, is his second reason for the docility of Irish citizens in the face of economic catastrophe.

There’s a collective sense of guilt. Everybody sinned in one-way or another. People took out too many loans; they bought stuff they shouldn’t have bought. Everybody felt responsible for it so we all took responsibility for it.

This simplistic, preachy and uninformed view is downright insulting to Irish citizens.

The vast majority of citizens did not sin, did not take out too many loans; did not buy stuff they should not have.

But even if some people did make bad decisions does that mean they were responsible, as Keane suggests, for the catastrophe?

Does he seriously believe that the individual actions of ordinary citizens were responsible for the loss of our economic sovereignty?

Does he really believe that Irish citizens then decided, en masse, that they were to blame and that they should therefore quietly knuckle down and take due punishment for their ‘sins’?

Disturbingly, it seems Keane does believe the above. It seems that, in common with far too many journalists, he is completely blind to the brutal reality of how Ireland is (mis) governed.

So here, for his enlightenment, is the brutal truth.

Broadly speaking there are just two classes of citizen in Ireland, those with power and influence and those with no power whatsoever.

These classes operate within what is laughingly called Irish democracy.

Those without power constitute the great majority of citizens, the great unwashed.

Those with power constitute the professional classes, the business sector, senior civil servants (particularly those working in the so-called law enforcement sector), union leaders, sections of the media and the body politic.

It is very important to understand that the body politic is, essentially, a single class that supports and defends its culture of clientelism, gombeenism and corruption.

All Irish politicians, on entering the political class must abandon all scruples and principles they may have in order to remain members.

This cynical abandonment of principles has become an open and fully accepted aspect of Irish political culture.

Those very few with the courage to challenge the corrupt system are immediately and ruthlessly ejected from its ranks in case any smidgeon of principle should infect the culture of greed, arrogance and corruption.

Nessa Childers and Roisin Shortall are recent examples of what happens to politicians who break the unwritten laws of the ruling political elite.

The electorate is the fodder for this political class. They have just two useful functions – to vote the gombeens into office/power and hand over their hard earned money to pay for the incompetence, arrogance and corruption of their political abusers.

Unlike functional democracies, there is, in effect, no opposition in Ireland. Parties or groups of parties simply take turns in exercising and abusing power.

Those waiting in the wings for their turn at the feeding trough of public money produce an endless stream of mealy-mouthed bullshit that’s supposed to resemble the democratic process.

And why, it may be asked, do the Irish electorate put up with this rotten system, why did they not take to the streets as a united group to bring down the corrupt system that continues to do so much damage to their interests?

Political ignorance is the answer.

Irish citizens, after decades of living under the corrupt system of clientelism, have little idea of what real democracy means.

In a sentence, the majority of Irish citizens believe that power emanates downwards from the gombeens they elected in exchange for a few favours paid for by their own tax money.

In functional democracies the electorate are very much aware that it is the ordinary people who own power; that power emanates from the bottom up.

They rightly treat those elected to political office as little more than ordinary citizens who have been temporarily granted power to run the state.

Add a complete absence of courageous and visionary political leadership to a largely politically ignorant electorate and you have the Ireland of today:

A nation of increasingly desperate and extremely angry people who are crying out for a leader to introduce them, for the first time in their history, to real democracy.

Copy to:
Fergal Keane
All political parties

2 thoughts on “Fergal Keane: Completely blind to the brutal reality of how Ireland is (mis) governed”

  1. Kleptocracy

    “alternatively cleptocracy or kleptarchy, (from Greek: κλέπτης – kleptēs, “thief”[1] and κράτος – kratos, “power, rule”,[2] hence “rule by thieves”) is a form of political and government corruption where the government exists to increase the personal wealth and political power of its officials and the ruling class at the expense of the wider population, often with pretense of honest service”.

  2. Well done Gavin and ‘disillusioned’. You have got to the heart of our problem. However, you have left out the compliant media. Here in the City of the Tribes we have a local “newspaper” that fails to reflect any local realism, preferring to fill its pages with photos of the local business glitterati class at dinners, award ceremonies while celebrating their charity to those who have nothing left to live on, on the edge in Galway, and many political announcements from wannabe TD’s. One free sheet doesn’t even have a letters page these days, as it doesn’t brook hearing from the contrarians in society anymore. Preferring to fill its pages with advertising from supermarkets who are selling below cost product that is putting Irish farmers out of work, and pandering to the Chambers of Commerce types, who are the real rulers of our city!

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