Farewell Dublin, hello Perth

19 Oct

A chara,

I write to voice my concern about the future of this country. I am sitting on the steps of the Department of Justice & Law Reform, the sun is beating down on my shoulders and I write to expel a dark thought from my mind. What is to become of the disenfranchised generation of Irish citizens whose future happiness and prosperity in this country has been cast in great black shadows by the criminal activities of our financial institutions and the gross mismanagement of our national affairs by our trusted Government?

Like so many other young Irishmen and women, my partner and I have decided to leave Ireland to live and work in another country. I came to the city today to prepare some things for our trip and to say goodbye to the capital for a while, to soak in some of her unique flavour before departing for Perth in Australia. What is it that makes Ireland a special country? What are the deepest moral values that are the foundations of Irish society? As I walk, thinking about Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan’s recent announcement of the country’s national debt (death?) I was deeply concerned not that I no longer knew what this core moral value might be, but saddened to find that I no longer care.

Seemingly, the woeful economic state we find ourselves in is merely a symptom of a far more threatening problem – a spiritual or existential crisis at play in Irish society. My own sense of moral apathy makes me think a deep wound has been inflicted by the bankers’ greed and it is not in our pockets but sadly in the collective heart of the Irish people. We can endure the toxic financial wreck that is Nama’s balance sheet, the grossly unfair debt saddled so abruptly on honest, hard-working tax-payers.

We cannot endure however, the sheer sense of injustice and the total loss of moral law at the filthy hands of these so-called rogues and sleeveens (it is equally disheartening to see we have had cause over the years to establish a colloquialism to best describe such recurrent characters in Irish society).

An example has been set by the leaders of this country that their selfish and cynical behaviour is an acceptable discourse in modern Ireland. Our potential to act meaningfully and righteously in this society has been shrouded in this cynicism by the greedy, ignorant brutes that head our banks and by the lacklustre unimaginative politicians that sit in our Government offices.

As a young able man I am ashamed that my chosen course of action is not violent protest (there should be rioting in the streets outside Dáil Eireann and Anglo Irish Bank); rather I choose to leave the wreckage – feeling as if a bully has just entered the playing field, burst the ball and walked away.

Sitting outside the Department of Justice Law Reform, whose steps feel like empty totems of the now laughable notion of justice, I think that the task at hand is not to set the country’s financial institutions back on track. It is to inspire an entire generation of skilled workers leaving our shores to return at some point to rebuild Ireland in the spirit of honesty and hard work, with a belief in our ability to live for the prosperity of others as well as ourselves. – Yours, etc,

BEN MULLEN,

Raheen Park,

Bray, Co Wicklow.

Letter to the Irish Times: 16/10/10

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