Friday, 26 November 2010

Why I'm Staying

A couple of nights or so ago I watched His And Hers again, one of the best Irish films you’ll ever see. It’s a beautifully made documentary, crafted from the simple premise of Irish women talking about the men in their lives. These are good, honest, warm, articulate, hardworking people, from those starting out in life to those looking back on theirs. Here’s the trailer to give you an idea if you’ve not seen it:

I watched the film while still digesting the Irish government’s ‘four year plan’ designed to help get the country back on its feet. Minutes after it had finished I saw Ireland’s Minister for Finance tell a television interviewer while trying to justify the measures, “let’s face it, we all partied”.

I didn’t. I wasn’t here for the boom years: with characteristic timing I reached the platform just in time to watch the tail lights of the gravy train trundling into the distance.

My partner didn’t either. She didn’t take on any of the stupid credit being practically forced on her and didn’t take on a mortgage she’d have no chance of repaying. She has no debts despite being made redundant and now only working part-time. She was sensible. Still is. Well, apart from her questionable taste in men, obviously.

The women in His And Hers were most likely sensible too. Good people. Honest people. People not involved in shamelessly reckless finance and nod-and-a-wink brown envelope cronyism. Yet these are the people being forced to clean up the financial mess in a way that those most responsible for it patently and wilfully aren’t.

The Irish government should be made to sit down and watch this film in an attempt to restore at least a smidgen of reality to their cloud cuckoo land detachment from Ireland and make them see the kind of people their actions are vigorously and unfairly ruining.

They keep talking about the ‘national interest’ but with their ridiculous salaries – Brian Cowen earns [sic] more than Barack Obama – and chauffeured limousines they no longer have any idea what the nation is. Even I have more of an idea of what the nation is than they do and I’ve only been here a couple of years. If there’s anyone utterly lacking a mandate to speculate upon the nature of the national interest it’s them.

One conclusion drawn from the measures is that it will force people out of the country and we’ll see the kind of mass emigration of the eighties and beyond all over again. Some people wonder whether perhaps that's even the intention.

Well, I’m not leaving. I love it here. I love the fantastic friends I’ve made and I’m proud to live here. The actions of the corrupt and greed-riddled few who are wriggling off the hook of responsibility thanks to a complicit, spineless and breathtakingly inept government don’t represent me and they’re not going to push me around, let alone push me out of the country.

I’m staying.

I’m staying for the people who’ve made me so welcome, I’m staying because Ireland is better than this and I’m staying because my ancestors were forced to leave and I’m buggered if I’m letting that happen again.

I’m staying because I’m proud to live in a country alongside the kinds of people you see in His And Hers and the kinds of people who can make films like His And Hers.

I’m staying because I’m angry and I’m staying because I’m determined not to let the country I call home remain in the hands of incompetent goggle-eyed hayseeds so dizzy with spin they have no idea what’s true and what isn’t any more, let alone how to fix their legacy of destruction.

I’m staying because I have faith that there are people far better equipped to fix the country than someone so ignorant, so crassly out of touch that he can look the nation in the eye and say, “let’s face it, we all partied”.

I’m staying.

Anyway, ‘party’ isn’t a verb.