an ugly little country?

It ain’t the biggest story of a week which saw Greece effectively bankrupt and calling in the cavalry for a rescue; or the sudden death of Gerry Ryan yesterday; or Gordon Brown’s fantastically destructive gaffe followed by a cynical media damage limitation exercise; or even Bishop N T Wright announcing he’s to become Prof N T Wright

No, my story of the week is TD Jim McDaid taking a stand for a principled and proper debate over members of the Dail drawing ministerial pensions while simultaneously earning a (substantial) wage and availing of, to use understatement, most generous TD expenses.

As you may have picked up, I find the idea of TD’s earning political pensions while still serving as paid politicians pretty indefensible.

But a more interesting point is the ‘public rage’ and ‘fury’ aimed at people like Bertie Ahern and Marie Geoghegan-Quinn and McDaid.

Why such ‘rage’ now?

Is it a  sign that we are at last actually demanding integrity, accountability and leadership from our leaders? Are the days of clientism, ‘strokes’, ‘everything is local’, ‘golden circles’ of politicians and developers and bankers, etc coming to an end? Is it no accident that the tough stance of the Financial Regulator over Quinn Insurance is that of an Englishman, an outsider free from local pressure?

Is it that we are longing for better leaders? Leaders that lead by example with courage, integrity and a degree of selfless-disinterest in personal gain. Leaders lead who have vision and can share that vision – a vision that calls people to something beyond themselves and their own narrow selfish interest?

Does it come from a deep-seated sense of injustice in the public mood? That there is an overwhelming perception that leaders have failed to lead – either in quality of decisions or by example. And those leaders have bailed out the greedy and the guilty, hit the ordinary workers with serious cuts that will impact a generation or more, while being cushioned themselves from their effects?

Or is it, as John Waters argues, evidence that we are becoming a ‘ugly little country’ of show trials and lynch mobs, manipulated by a hypocritical media?

What do you think?

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