Shane Hegarty is an excellent writer who writes a witty and interesting column each week in the Irish Times. But on Saturday he wrote about the over-50s and said: “Yet the over-50s, in general terms, may yet be subject to one charge: that they were arguably the greatest beneficiaries of the boom and architects of the recession.”
As one of the over-50s I am here to apologise.
I am sorry that in 2001 I got a car loan so that I could lash out a staggering 14,000 euro on a Seat Ibiza in an shocking display of affluence, and that I still have the nerve to arrogantly drive that same car even now. I apologise that my pay was cut by a mere six per cent last year, and that my net pay is now lower than it was when I started in my current job five years ago.
I still live in the same bungalow that we bought 25 years ago, but apparently I am responsible for the property boom for some reason that I don’t quite fathom, possibly because I am old and senile.
Which reminds me, I am sorry for being a burden on taxpayers like Shane and, well, me when I had to occupy a hospital bed and use the services of a surgeon (increasing his already vast wealth) when I had my pacemaker operation.
I apologise on behalf of the elderly couples who were advised to invest their retirement funds in now worthless bank shares that wiped out a lifetime’s savings in a matter of days.
I apologise on behalf of lonely old men in lonely old farmhouses who get beaten up and robbed of their few measly euro by armed scum.
I apologise on behalf of the elderly who were treated so badly by people who, in general terms, were not over 50, in Leas Cross and other horrendously run nursing homes.
I apologise for the shopping weekends in New York, the winter skiing, the summer sunning, the SUVs the size of trucks, all of which I remember at the time being the preserve of people younger than me, but as I say I may just be old and senile.
I apologise that I don’t buy the Irish Times as often as I used to, and fully understand that they had to raise the price of their paper a couple of months ago. After all, they don’t make as much money as they used to from the giant full-colour property supplement that they used to run, which in no way helped fuel the property bubble.
A small group of well-connected people were the beneficiaries of the boom and the architects of the recession. Most of them were indeed over 50, but to lump us all in with them makes as much sense as saying that Londoners should apologise for being the beneficiaries of the Great Train Robbery.
It is generally accepted that one of the people who genuinely did contribute to the collapse of the economy is our former leader Bertie Ahern. In April 2007 an opinion poll showed that nearly half of all voters believed that Mr Ahern had questions to answer over controversial payments made to him.
In the General Election one month later 858,565 people voted to return Mr Ahern and his party to power. They decided that keeping things ticking along as they were was more important than having a morally irreproachable government.
And if all of those 858,565 people were over 50, well, I apologise for that too.