Whipping boys and scapegoats
Are you right there Michael, are you right? Chances are, like all returning holiday-makers, former banker Michael Fingleton had a lot of things on his mind when he landed at Dublin airport yesterday. He was probably trying to remember where …
Are you right there Michael, are you right? Chances are, like all returning holiday-makers, former banker Michael Fingleton had a lot of things on his mind when he landed at Dublin airport yesterday. He was probably trying to remember where he had left his house-keys, hoping there was some grub and a nice bottle of white wine in the fridge and wondering if he could have a lie-in the following morning.
As he walked off the plane, in his canary-yellow holiday gear and Panama hat, the last thing he expected to see was a RTE camera crew. David Murphy’s report on last night’s news was one of those pieces of footage you know is destined to be played over and over and over again. Murphy pursued the reticent banker up stairs and out doors, with Fingers trying desperately to shake him off without (a) hitting him or (b) telling him to PFO. He muttered a few comments but nothing we didn’t expect to hear. We have seen this kind of footage before as a news crew go in pursuit of the latest public scapegoat or whipping boy like greyhounds after a hare at a coursing meeting.
Thing is, though, Fingers, his buddy Seanie Fitzpatrick and Paddy Kelly, the Desperate Dan of the developing classes, are just the thin edge of the wedge. In golf clubs and living rooms all over the country, other potential scapegoats probably watched the footage, raised their glasses and said a quiet hurrah. Someone else is getting it in the neck and they’re escaping. You’d hurrah too if it was you.
It’s easy to blame all our woes and ills on a dastardly trio like Fingers, Fitzie and Kelly. They’re the ones we saw flaunting things when times were good and even when times were bad (see Kelly knocking back at the champers in Glenties a few weeks ago). They were always going to be first up on the gullotine when the good times came to an end. Things like Fingleton’s pension and Kelly’s BMW have become Irish versions of Nazi gold, things we believe they plundered from us and we want back.
But, let’s be honest here, there’s a hell of a lot more characters who need to be brought to account as well as those three stooges. I’m not saying that the three lads are innocent victims – far from it – but they’re not the only ones. The more we concentrate on a couple of eejits who lived life high on the hog and allowed the publicity and accolades go to their heads, the more we’re avoiding the bigger issues. Look at who has replaced the likes of Fingleton and Fitzpatrick in the banks and look at their track records. We seem to be replacing like with would-like-to-be-like. There’s no sign of the radical overhaul of the banking sector which you’d think events of the last two years would call for. Instead, our Fianna Fail and Green Party government keep pumping cash into a dead bank and are happy for the public and media to take out their ire on Seanie and Fingers. It seems to be the Irish way: when things go bad, identify a scapegoat and let rip.