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NO ONE can doubt that we are living through momentous times in which the citizens of the state are daily confronted with challenges of dizzying complexity and asked to understand very unpalatable decisions necessary for the very survival of the state.
Like most others, I am grossly offended at the sorry pass to which we have been brought. But I understand what needs to be done and will play my role. If we do this right — and do it together — then there’s a chance that the tattered remnants of our national reputation can be rescued from the wreckage.
In the meantime, I do urge us to husband carefully the little bit of dignity that we have left.
With that in mind, may I ask those in charge of assembling the itineraries for visiting dignitaries whether just once it might be possible to receive someone to this state without them having to endure — seemingly as a matter of state policy — a ceremonial push through the door of a saloon or hop store and up to a counter, where they are forced to provide one of the world’s biggest alcoholic drinks corporations with a free photo opportunity?
Is it strictly necessary to conflate the notion of friendship with this state and its people with a taste for a particular drink? Why is our Government — and even more mystifying, our media — happy to have this state and its people effectively rendered as non-speaking extras in one of the world’s longest and most condescending advertising campaigns? And one moreover that reinforces a national stereotype that others might not find as amusing as we do? I ask this question as somebody that has swallowed a nice few pints of Guinness in my time.
But I’m afraid I do have a problem when my state and its officials permit themselves to be used in examples of product placement that the grubbiest Hollywood huckster would blush to suggest. I cannot be the only Irishman who has become a little tired of seen his state dragooned into the advertising campaigns of this foreign corporation?
The Taoiseach remarked recently that “Paddy likes to know what the story is”. Well, this Paddy is very tired of the story that has him being asked to regard as the highpoint of these visits that instant where the hapless visitor is expected to bend his elbow and flash an alcoholic drink brand in an endorsement of a specific multinational corporation that is then presented to the rest of the world as our tribal initiation rite.
It’s going to be a long slow climb back to the self-confidence spoken about by President Obama. But I think a small step on that journey would be a fairly methodical disentangling of the state’s policy around official receptions and legitimate representation of the Irish people and the hackneyed insertions and manoeuvrings of corporate advertising departments. I’m tired of being used and I bet you that I’m not alone.
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