Now that we know for sure the economy is doomed thanks to the activity of fifty or sixty large developers and a half dozen private banks, I thought you might enjoy a reminder of what it means to really splash out.
You’ll recall Brian Lenihan loading us up with Catholic guilt when he admonished the nation that we all partied, and that we’d all now have to pick up the tab for the excesses of the high flyers. You were probably wondering if that week in Ibiza could really have cost the country four billion euros.
Well, after the disastrous bank bailout of 2008, the entire nation re-evaluated its behaviour and began to keep a much tighter rein on the money. No more vibrating armchairs. No more holographic surround-sound systems. No more solid-marble lampshades.
But while we were tightening our belts, what do you reckon the ignorati were up to?
This one might boil your blood a little.
The Vatican’s Pauline Chapel (Cappella Paolina) contains two frescoes painted by Michelangelo in the 1540s, depicting the conversion of Paul and the crucifixion of Peter. They were restored at a cost of about €3 million which was raised by public donation rather than out of Vatican funds, and the chapel was unveiled by Pope Benedict in July 2009.
The final paragraph of the Vatican’s web page on the project reads as follows:
The financial support was provided by the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums and it is proper that their names are delivered to the memory and to the gratitude of the future generations: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Hintze, Mr. and Mrs. Jaime Davila, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Halle, Mr. and Mrs. William Bollinger, Mr. Mark Keane, Mr. Patrick McKillen, Mr. Sean Mulryan, Mr. Derek Quinlan, Mr. John Ronan, Mr. John J. Brogan and Family, Mr. Sean Fitzpatrick, Mr. Denis O’Brien, Sir Thomas Farmer and Family, The Brown Foundation, The Florida Chapter, The Texas Chapter, Mr. Thomas Quick, Mr. and Mrs. John Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Rooney, Mr. Michael Fingleton, Mr. and Mrs. Howard Fromson , Mr. and Mrs. Bradley Collins, Mr. and Mrs. James Colross, Mr. Michael Boberschmidt, Mr. John McCaffrey, and Mrs. Shirley Kernan.
Isn’t that interesting?
Almost a year after we learned that Seanie Fitzpatrick and Fingers Fingleton had helped to destroy the Irish economy, here they are in the Vatican, hobnobbing with the Pope because they handed over money obtained at public expense. And not only the two heads of the dodgiest banks in the history of civilisation, but also an assortment of property developers whose loans have been taken over by Nama. Not to forget Mr Denis O Brien, the man a Tribunal judge said had obtained his mobile phone licence thanks to an inappropriate relationship with the government minister responsible for communications.
All of these guys rode the Celtic Tiger, and when they jumped off, they kept a little something for themselves. Some of them, like O Brien, don’t even live in Ireland and therefore won’t have to carry the increased tax burden facing the rest of society.
Do you like it? You have to love it really. Otherwise, you might decide to run crazy with an axe, and while it might be satisfying, that would not be good.