Nation's malaise visible in venom flung at Quinn
The Irish are angry but also psychotically ill. Why else target a man who really did his best?
SO NO doubt I’m wrong about Seán Quinn. He has been sneaking around Cavan General Hospital stealing the incubators in the maternity unit and digging his greasy fingers in the moneybox in Barnardos.
At least that’s the impression I get from Fintan O’Toole’s neat equations about how this giant of industry has been carrying on. A man who I mistakenly thought had spent 40 years developing factories in Cavan and Fermanagh, with fewer grants than Fás would find for coffee breaks. And in counties which, up to recent years got precious little from Free State, semi-State or the wobbly British state except decades of ridicule for being so poor that they ate their dinners out of drawers.
Apparently Quinn was not a man trying to generate jobs at all in that depressed area. He was actually oppressing the people all around him. It’s funny how we get things wrong in Ireland. So wrong that we’re always divided regarding public figures.
Thirty years ago some intellectuals used to propagate the notion that two sides of the same drumlin were different countries with different cultures and imaginations. You either agreed with partition or you were against it. Either for Dev or Collins. For Haughey or FitzGerald.
Always split down the middle. For Roy Keane or against. For the Rossport Five. Against the fracking. It’s all black and white, and nothing stirs the Gaelic juice more than an enemy, a scapegoat, a bad bastard you can get angry with on some live radio talk show.
We’re a psychotic nation in the grip of negative rhetoric, suffering from a rage that has never been diagnosed. The Civil War in Ireland didn’t create divisions. It was merely another symptom of a very deep malaise.
We relish scapegoats like the English revere the queen or the French enjoy sex. We could have given the Dáil powers to go after the big business crooks in last year’s referendum but we preferred to have a toothless parliament and do the gnawing ourselves on the wireless. Maybe we are such a damaged, wounded and colonised little tribe that we don’t have the cultural or collective power to ever overcome that negative rage. Perhaps the Republic is just not viable as a spiritual or cultural entity anymore. We may need outside help for more than banking.
Even in culture, there are civil wars. I’m thrilled to be doing a gig in August at Cavan Fleadh with Eleanor Shanley where the great and amazing De Danann are on the bill. I told this to a friend recently and she said “which De Danann?” because apparently there are two De Dananns. The old one and the new one. And two Wolfe Tones. And half a dozen Sinn Féins. And as many republican armies as you’re having yourself. We just need to be against someone. So Seán Quinn has stepped into the limelight. He’s the bad guy and those who support him are deluded and so enthralled to his feudal lordship that they would kiss the rod that beats them.