I have great sympathy for the residents of Priory Hall and I’d like to see them helped out of their predicament. I want the government to spend the money and get rid of the problem, even though it will cost me even more taxes than I’m already paying, but we should support our fellow citizens. So therefore, yes, go for it. Help these people. There is, however, a caveat. We do this because we feel sorry for the people who bought the apartments in Priory Hall, and perhaps because we detest the developer, Tom McFeely. I can tell you that I personally find him utterly detestable. He built shit apartments. He sold them to trusting customers. He walked away with the money.
Tom McFeely embodies everything that was wrong with the Celtic Tiger feeding frenzy and then he added a bit more of his own. He’s a thug. He’s a bully. He’s a convicted criminal. He’s a hypocrite, this former IRA hunger striker proclaiming his British citizenship to avoid Irish bankruptcy proceedings. Tom McFeely is an utter prick.
Having said all that, is the State responsible for compensating people who have been ripped off? No. It is not. There’s no law, no constitutional provision requiring the taxpayer to pay you back if some scumbag robs you. Most of the time, that’s why we pay insurance. There’s a widespread, naive belief that somehow the State is responsible for the actions of people like McFeely when the reality is that there is no such obligation. We fix the problem solely because we think we should, out of sheer altruism and that’s fine too. Altruism is what sets us apart from brutes, but there is not now, and never was, an obligation on the taxpayer, to pay the bills generated by chancers. It’s that simple.
I’m bothered about this Priory Hall thing, not because I think the residents should be abandoned, but because I wonder where it will stop. Should every homeowner who paid a bad builder for bad work be entitled to compensation at the expense of you and me? And if not, why not? Let’s define the circumstances in which we, the Irish people, pay extra taxes to cover the costs generated by bad builders. I’m not saying No. I’m just asking for a definition. When do I pay?