Roots of the Rip-off Republic go back to foundation of the State

SO we live in a ‘Rip-off Republic,’ as if that was news. If we replace ‘rip-off’ with other terms such as ‘political patronage’ or ‘clientelist politics,’ then it doesn’t appear so new after all.

The fact is that a culture of political patronage and its associated corruption of political and civic life were built into the very foundations of the state.

Irish governments have been dominated by two tendencies since the formation of the Provisional Government in 1922. The Treatyite government was dominated by a particular Catholic/nationalist middle class that saw itself as the natural and rightful rulers - Kevin O’Higgins & Co.

They saw to it that any radical elements, republican or otherwise, were expunged. One tendency used the growing bureaucracy of the state to buy sectional interests (big farmers, publicans, etc.) with the promise of political patronage. This was formalised with the formation of Cumann na nGaedheal (who became Fine Gael), the Army Comrades Association (Blueshirts), and later Fianna Fáil.

The other tendency, most notably under the leadership of Seán Lemass, sought to open Ireland up to international capital and make it attractive to multinational companies (Shell?).

The state is predicated on selling political patronage and selling off the country’s assets on the cheap.

Time for change? I think so.

Simon Warren

Fearann na Carraige

Abhainn an Scáil

Co Chiarraí

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