Today, we are all Denis O’Brien. But not like that, however much Newstalk commands it. I mean more the way you become someone by inhaling them.
It is not that there are particles of O’Brien’s corporeal form general over Ireland and we breathe them in the way we breathe in a foul stench. It is more in the field of language, where every grunt and squiggle feels freighted with O’Brien’s presence.
By ‘Denis O’Brien’ I don’t really mean the person: not the bumptious fat boy on the make who fears the country is falling to the communists, who gloms onto the desires and vanities of wealthy elites and nudges them in his direction, who trousers untold riches from the bounty unleashed by privateers as state-owned assets are sold off and rented back to the population, who trawls the bottom billion for bargains and then flips the sale to even bigger billionaires. Who cares about him? Yes, he’s Denis O’Brien all right, but so are we.
Turn on your tap and fill a glass of water and drink it. Does it taste like Denis O’Brien? No? Take a small sip and hold it in your mouth and think about how you’ll be paying for this soon. Don’t swallow until you’ve sluiced around the idea that water charges were a recommendation of the McCarthy Report, and the most instrumental cheerleaders and legitimators of the McCarthy Report were individuals in the pay of Independent News and Media and Newstalk (including, perhaps, Colm McCarthy, if he doesn’t write those columns simply for the good of his health). How’s that water tasting? Swallowed it yet?
When your neighbour who has been out of work since the housing bubble burst tells you the way of sorting out the country is to slash the health budget by €10bn and privatise all the semi-states and sack all the useless civil servants and bring in some people into government who really know how to run a business, is it your neighbour talking? Are you sure? Can you hear anyone else?
What do you think about the Moriarty Tribunal? Do you think it was an awful waste of taxpayer money that demoralised the population and hasn’t really revealed anything other than the fact that lawyers are very expensive and civil servants are useless and businessmen are very competitive and when the difference between winning and losing is using a bit of influence on a venal politician, it is a natural enough occurrence for a red-in-tooth-and-claw go-getter to offer some sort of inducement?
Do you know who else thinks that?