Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Milk is Spilt. Occupying the Bottle Won't Bring It Back.

Dublin 2 was fringed with protesters yesterday, heartscalded and weeping as the infamous Anglo Bondholders cashed in their latest dividend, or bag of swag, or whatever the technical name for the thing is.

A group of young people stretched from outside the old Anglo-Irish bank headquarters at the top of Stephen Green’s all the way down to the Spar on Merrion Row. They were a crack detachment of the Occupy Dame Street activists, not dissimilar to Brad Pitt’s recent squad of Nazi killers in Inglorious Basterds. Unfortunately, these protesters didn’t so much look like Hollywood heartthrobs as some slight superannuated Billie Barrie kids hoping for a chorus part in a new production of Oliver! Please sir, can I have some more, indeed.

Around the corner, outside Government buildings, someone had gone to greater effort. Two men were dressed in black suits and bowler hats, a la Laurel and Hardy, but these boys went one step further than Stan and Ollie ever did.

They wore pink piggy snouts, pink piggy facepaint and danced around in a piggy style to music that was hard to distinguish from the saddle of a bike. A knot of guards watched the pig men with wild surmise, while a TV cameraman had to fight hard not to join in the dance himself, clearing looking forward to a cracking lead on the evening news.

When it comes to empty gestures and crying after spilt milk, nobody does it quite like the Irish. The Anglo bondholders are getting paid. They were always going to get paid. Always.

There isn’t a force between hell and Bethlehem that will stop the Anglo bondholders getting paid. If there was, don’t you think the Government, now busy taxing the pound of butter and taxing the ha’penny bun, wouldn’t use it? Why on Earth wouldn’t they? Do you think they need more grief?

The pig men are play-acting. The occupy people will wake up with hangovers in strange beds this morning so for them it wasn’t a total washout, according to how one scores life at that age.

But for the plain people of Ireland, the people who have to write the cheques to finance this nonsense, it’s another dagger through a heart that looks like a pound of mincemeat right now. Now we waste time as well money. Money can come back. Time never will.

Hopping on one foot down O’Connell Street on Saturday at two o’clock as part of the People Not Banks Movement, the Hang the Bankers Movement, the End Capitalism Movement or Whatever You’re Having Yourself Movement won’t change a blessed thing. It’s all for show.

The milk is spilt. It was spilt long ago, and it’s not going back in the bottle. Ireland can no more reverse the bank agreement than it can the Border Commission, the Treaty, the Famine or the Norman Invasion. If we could, we would. We can’t. Get over it.

People are angry about how so much has been lost, and rightly so. But rather than be angry or playing at dressing up, it would behove the Irish nation better to find out what went wrong and to ask ourselves how exactly we can stop it going wrong again.

Next time, how about not believing every sun, moon and local hospital promise politicians make. How about voting for someone because they’re good and not because they live down the road. Or how about voting for someone who will reform the system so that it can never not be held to account again? Wouldn’t that be more productive than acting the maggot on Merrion Row?