Ciara Kenny

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Beaming Bertie: indication of all that is wrong in Ireland

Seeing photos of a beaming Bertie Ahern at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis in Ireland’s national newspaper is indicative of all that is wrong in Ireland at the moment, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain.

Thu, Mar 8, 2012, 01:00


Seeing photos of Bertie Ahern at the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis in Ireland’s national newspaper is indicative of all that is wrong in Ireland at the moment, writes Conn Mac Gabhann of  the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain.

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the RDS in Dublin for the Fianna Fail ardfheis last weekend. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Iceland has put its former Prime Minister on trial for mismanagement of the people’s economy.

In Ireland things are different. As I looked at the Irish Times website from my home in London. I was surprised to see former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern smiling back at me from the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis.

The image has stayed with me. It was on my mind coming away from hurling training last night in south London, on the train to Charing Cross. Our squad, threadbare last year, has doubled. We’re looking good for this year to win a game or two. But it all seems a bit wrong.

It seems wrong that young men who did everything right – pursuing education and training diligently over the past years, are coming in waves caused by the ineptitude and corruption of their leaders. These men coming to the likes of Deptford and Lewisham are not (in contrast to the myth) going into hi-tech jobs or professions, they are scrambling around for a living wage, sleeping on the floor of friends, thinking about alternatives, other places where there might be work.

I wonder with all the talk of our highly skilled Irish emigrants, how surprised people would be with the talk of jobs last night. ‘I can’t get on a site because it’s all agency work now and that takes weeks.’ ‘Its all minimum wage and that wont cover travel and a place.’ ‘I have a degree but I’ll do anything. Labouring, bar work, in an office, anything.’

I am glad we have the new players. But I wondered what other state would allow its people to be scattered so easily. I wondered what other people could reinterpret the grotesque economic mismanagement of the Celtic Tiger as the romantic wanderlust of the Gaelic soul.

Then I remembered that in Ireland’s national paper, Bertie Ahern continues to beam out.

Conn Mac Gabhann is manager of the Traveller Project in the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain.

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