Jim Carroll

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“All of these candidates grew up during the Celtic Tiger and are spoiled”

OTR is not usually prone to quoting reality TV star and car salesman Bill Cullen, but that quote caught my eye. In an interview wrapping up the current run of The Apprentice, Cullen bemoaned what he saw as the softness …

Tue, Dec 14, 2010, 14:20


OTR is not usually prone to quoting reality TV star and car salesman Bill Cullen, but that quote caught my eye.

In an interview wrapping up the current run of The Apprentice, Cullen bemoaned what he saw as the softness of the post-Celtic Tiger generation despite the current difficult economic times. “It isn’t getting any stronger and we need people who have the moxy,” he said about that proportion of the demographic who enter a show like The Apprentice.

Of course, Cullen is no alone in bemoaning and belittling those who came of age in the Celtic Tiger years as being soft-as-shite. It’s a common perception which is usually articulated by those who can remember the Eighties and think this gives them the licence to say things like “it wasn’t like this in the Eighties, you know”. This statement is usually accompanied by a tut or a sigh or both.

They’re right, it wasn’t like this in the Eighties, because that was over 20 years ago. A lot has changed since then so trying to compare what’s going on now with what was going on then is to miss a lot of points. Those who came of age during the boom – hey, let’s be optimistic, there may be another one on the way within the next few decades – or who are about to leave school and college grew up with certain expectations about education and career prospects because the country had changed and developed since the days when kids seemed to be reared for export. There would be an argument made by Cullen (indeed, it has been made by him before) that such expectations mean this generation has been molly-coddled and would prefer to let someone else do the heavy-lifting for them.

But such an opinion is just a tiny part of the equation. While it may be felt by some that emigration is the only thing to be considered, there are many kids who are ditching that notion and planning to stick around to see what can be done. Time and time again this again, via events like Banter and Hard Working Class Heroes, I’ve met kids who grew up during the Celtic Tiger years who have no intention of hightailing it out of here now that bad times have come. They want to stick around to get madcap ventures, innovative ideas and interesting notions off the ground. Sure, they could head away on a Ryanair flight and join that traditional exodus to a foreign land, but they’ve no intention of doing so. After all, as I hear again and again, it’s their country every bit as much as this country belongs to the gobshites in power who messed things up and the thirtysomethings to seventysomethings who allowed those gobshites to mess things up (mainly by voting for Fianna Fail-led governments three elections in a row). It’s time for them to have a go.

So when I hear people like Cullen and others like him talking about a “spoiled” Celtic Tiger generation, I wonder what the hell they’re on about. For every caricature you could paint – which would probably involved Fade Street and Take Me Out – there’s also plenty who’re cracking on with leaving a positive mark on this sorry little land and not just joining the wild geese who will always sing a chorus of begrudgery about this place from the safety of a foreign barstool.

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