Icon of the boom defies convention

THE disparate threads of the Celtic Tiger Tragedy suddenly became woven into a single tapestry of sorrow at the opening of the Convention Centre Dublin as what was intended to be the icon of the boom instead showcased those buried beneath the rubble of the bust.

Look! There’s Bertie Ahern! And what are the tarnished Taoiseach’s thoughts on his very own Seanad nominee Ivor Callely taking that extraordinary trip to the Four Courts?

“I’m afraid to say anything about lawyers – they’re very dangerous,” Bertie shrugged, still beaming that shameless trademark twinkle which transfixed the tribunals.

And who’s that Bertie is man-hugging in the convention centre’s foyer? Why, it’s none other than developer Johnny Ronan.

You know, the property tiger who turned out to be a bit of a paper tiger when NAMA moved in to bail out his firm Treasury Holdings as he jetted off to Morocco with TV presenter Glenda Gilson to enjoy a week-long holiday which reportedly cost €60,000.

Oh, and just look at the views of downtown Dublin from Treasury Holdings’ magnificent glass edifice of the CCD! Not so much a panorama, more a NAMA-rama – as so many of the glinting buildings are now toxic follies propped up by the hard-pressed taxpayer.

And here he comes! Our tour de force Taoiseach Brian Cowen – bravely battling the bond-holders as they feed off the financial carcass of what’s left of the Irish economy once more.

As Ireland’s cost of borrowing hit a new record high against Germany’s, the Taoiseach dismissed it as mere “ebbs and flows” in an echo of the way he sleepwalked into disaster by downplaying the gathering storm in the run-up to the banking collapse which could still sink us all.

However, curiosity was raised when CCD executive chairman Dermod Dwyer announced that Mr Cowen would “ignite the building officially” – which was surprising as the only things he seems to have ignited in his 30 months as Taoiseach are that crafty fag in Croke Park, and a bonfire of inanities in response to the slump.

Thankfully, rather than setting the €380m show-piece centre aflame, Mr Cowen merely had to place his hand on an electronic palm print in order to signify lift-off for the CCD – thus inadvertently putting his fingerprints on something that may actually inspire national pride for once.

Though it was billed as the grand opening of the CCD, the building has already played host to X Factor auditions, and ironically at the very moment the Taoiseach was in the auditorium, Jedward were at Leinster House, well, the adjourning national library anyway – begging the question would anyone notice if they swapped roles permanently? We already know Mr Cowen can’t sing any better than the twins, and they could hardly be much worse than him at running the economy.

The CCD is an impressive building which will attract much-needed foreign currency, but how fitting that as it played host to the Boys From The Bubble That Went Bust – the ghosts of crises past and crisis present – Sinead O’Connor was on hand to deliver a note-perfect rendition of She Moves Through The Fair – the mournful lament of someone who cannot accept that their great love is now dead.

The entrance of the CCD is adorned with a giant Céad Míle Fáilte sign – it might well add a message in brackets for the foreign delegates soon to descend on the centre: “A hundred thousand welcomes, 455,000 unemployed – Please help.”


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