It’s hard to avoid the irrelevant details when talking about Sean Dunne.
Let’s forget his friendship with Bertie Ahern. Let’s forget the cringe-inducing wedding on the Onassis yacht. It’s hard to avoid the vulgarity. It’s hard to ignore the Z-lister gossip-columnist wife. It’s hard to turn away from the sheer over-moneyed, under-educated brashness of it all, but we must, because there are far more important issues at stake.
It’s true that, like Haughey, Sean Dunne purchased an instant veneer of culture and by doing so won over a shoal of vapid, shallow wannnabes, but let’s ignore that. Let’s ignore the mesmeric fascination of quick money. Instead of seeing the silly Irish non-celebrity fools who inhabit Sean Dunne’s world of champagne vulgarity, let’s focus on the fact that his billion-euro bankruptcy will hurt not only banks, but also a host of smaller contractors and suppliers who had to lay off workers when Sean’s ludicrous, ego-driven plans went off the rails. That’s a lot of bankrupt people who – unlike Sean and the gossip queen – won’t have an opportunity to appeal to the Connecticut courts. A lot of families without a home. A lot of people who don’t know where the next dinner is coming from.
Good man, Dunner, as his close friend, Da Bert, might say.
And let’s not ignore the distorted thinking behind Dunne’s claim that he paid €250 million in tax on behalf of his employees.
He did not.
He employed people who gave him their honest labour. He reimbursed them as required by his contract and he made a profit. They in turn paid their taxes like any law-abiding citizen and not one penny of those taxes was paid by Sean Dunne. But of course, this is not how such people think.
Usurping the role of the Revenue Commissioners and the elected government, Sean Dunne has declared that his debt is paid, and that’s the end of it. What’s implicit in a statement like that? Simple: it means that in the minds of people like Dunne, some laws simply don’t apply.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all decide which laws to obey and which to ignore? Instead of being enraged by our taxes, we can simply declare that our debt is paid.
Sean Dunne is currently asking the Connecticut courts to forgive him debts of about €1 billion, and while much of this money might well be owed to the hated banks, a large chunk is owed to the Irish taxpayer, and the rest is owed to people who supplied him with goods and services — otherwise known as people trying to make an honest living.
Those people are now destroyed, while Sean Dunne continues to live in a vast rented mansion and boasts that he’ll be back in business within a year or two.
When we see what’s going on at home, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for Dunne’s brand of financial distress.