Economist Dan O’Brien is a seriously confused man.
On the one hand he believes Ireland is heading toward a state of ungovernability because of a very serious lack of trust in institutions like government, business, media and NGOs.
There is no other country among the 27 covered in the world-wide survey in which people have less trust in their nation’s politics and civil society institutions.
On the other hand O’Brien is adamant that such institutions are no worse than similar institutions in other countries.
While Irish media, NGOs and businesses have all been guilty of wrongdoing – and it is easy to find examples where each has undermined trust – I simply do not believe that they are all to be distrusted more than their counterparts in almost every other country.
O’Brien was responding to the findings of a world-wide poll taken by a public relations firm late last year which – he concludes;
Suggests that something is seriously awry in Irish society. And not just among those who feel excluded.
And this is where O’Brien is confused.
On the one hand Ireland is no worse than any other country while on the other there is something seriously awry in how our country is governed.
If O’Brien follows the logic of his own thinking then all 27 countries polled are suffering from serious flaws in how they are governed. This, I’m sure he would agree, is not the case.
So why is Ireland different, what is seriously awry in how we are governed?
The answer is as simple as it is stark – Ireland is an intrinsically corrupt state.
Like all countries Ireland has always suffered from a degree of corruption but this all changed in 1979 when the criminal politician Haughey came to power. His corrupting influence infected every level of Irish society but in particular, his corrupt activities transformed the political and financial sectors into little more than co-operating mafia outfits.
It is these two corrupt pillars of Irish society that are directly responsible for the catastrophe that occurred in 2008. Nothing whatsoever has changed since then. The same corrupt political system is still in power, the same financial sector is as corrupt as ever and the same so called regulatory agencies continue to look on with approval.
The Irish people have lost trust in the political system because that system has betrayed them time after time. This is not just opinion, the facts speak for themselves.
In the run up to the 1992 general election the leader of the Labour Party Dick Spring adopted a very strong anti-corruption stance going so far as to accurately describe Haughey as a cancer on the body politic. But once elected, Spring promptly betrayed the trust of the people by abandoning his principles and joining forces with the cancerous Haughey.
Similarly the Progressive Democrats, a party that came into existence in response to Haughey’s corruption, also abandoned their integrity and principles in exchange for power and influence. Once again the people were betrayed.
Then we had the Green Party, full of laudable principles while in opposition but once in government they too abandoned their political integrity in exchange for the benefits of power.
The complete absence of political courage, vision or integrity within the body politic led to the evolvement of a culture where financial institutions, property developers, the legal system and practically every other individual, group or organisation with access to political favour were allowed to indulge in serious criminal activity with total impunity.
The inevitable catastrophe came to pass in 2008 when the whole system collapsed under the sheer weight of its own putrid rottenness.
The 2011 election was the last desperate attempt by the Irish electorate to elect a decent, accountable government but once again their desperate pleas for honest and courageous political leadership was thrown back in their faces.
Rampant political corruption is the reason Irish citizens have lost trust in the political system. Rampant political corruption lies at the heart of all our problems.
Mr. O’Brien is confused because he simply cannot bring himself to believe that reality.
Sadly, for Irish citizens such denial from influential opinion makers will only serve to protect and encourage the corrupt and prolong Ireland’s agony.