Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The worst thing about the economic landslide…

Well, the worst thing about the economic landslide is the fact that thousands of people will lose their jobs, fail to make their house payments, feel the need to emigrate and generally experience all kinds of ordinary and extraordinary misery. …

Tue, Nov 23, 2010, 22:23

   

Well, the worst thing about the economic landslide is the fact that thousands of people will lose their jobs, fail to make their house payments, feel the need to emigrate and generally experience all kinds of ordinary and extraordinary misery. Let me start again. One aspect of the current catastrophe that bugs me is the inevitable smugness that will spread through significant sections of the Northern Irish Unionist community. Not all of it. Not even most of it. But more than a few men in blazers will be sitting down to a huge plate of told-you-so pie.

A typical southerner yesterday.

I know whereof I speak. A child of that community, I have, over the last decade or so, encountered more than a few golf club members who, after a small bucket of gin, would delight in telling you that the Republic’s economic boom was sure to end in disaster. The ¬†general explanation for the economic surge was — these folk argued — to be found in the fact that every penny sitting in every Irish bank account came from “the Common Market”. It seems that, each weekend, European officials would travel over from Brussels and drive around the country handing out fivers to every gap-toothed yokel (that’s to say every citizen of the State) in every poorly maintained, rat-invested hovel (that’s to say every house outside the six counties). Being simple folk — children really — the Southerners would then spend the cash on magic beans, pinwheel hats and rosary beads. Eventually, the European money would run out and they (you) would all have to go back to eating rotten potatoes and having too many children.

You may as well argue against the tide as point out that aspects other than EU largesse were at play: the highly educated population, an outward-looking attitude, a convenient location and, of course, that fabled, controversially low corporation tax. The slack-jawed baboons who lived south of Newry (or in Newry for that matter) could not, in any way, be considered responsible for the supernatural degrees of wealth circulating about the 26 counties.

It was equally pointless to explain that Northern Ireland is just about the most subsidised corner of western Europe. A report I’ve just made up explains that, as of last December, some 98 percent of the Northern population works for the government in some capacity. No, no, no! It’s pure toil, harsh soap and Presbyterian thriftiness that turned Northern Ireland into the economic powerhouse it plainly isn’t.

So, where are we now? It would be wrong to suggest that Rosemary and Edwin McCausland were correct in their assertion that the southerners’ inherent uselessness and unstoppable profligacy would bring their nation to a sticky end. Whatever the members of Ballyduckle Golf Club may believe, this is not a nation of village idiots and trained monkeys. Still, the awareness that quite a few Nordies are now laughing over their Scotches does chill the blood slightly.

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