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When the tail wags the dog

by OPINION: by Jimmy Rhatigan

OVER THE years, we have learned the hard way that because someone wears clerical garb or because a medic is dressed in scrubs and carries a collection of surgical paraphernalia that he or she can be trusted.

Similarly, we have had legal eagles that pulled the wool over our eyes and we have come across men and women in uniform, soldiers and police officers who gave us the two fingers.

And, God love us, enough politicians have fooled us at his stage to make us wary of that species.

Journalists and writers have not always distinguished themselves, with coverage of the Covid Pandemic leaving a lot to be desired.

Here we go again, another Rhatigan moan, may be some Kilkenny Press readers’ reaction.

We are all entitled to our opinion, including readers.

Reality is that if you have a habit of picking your nose it is not always pleasant when somebody rebukes your dirty pastime – particularly in public.

My gripe today is not to send out the message that every Tom, Dick and Harry, Mary, Martha and Maggie too, is forever offside.


It is merely to point out that we now live in a society that is so disorganized, so topsy turvy that we no longer know who’s who and what’s what.

Rules are made, supposedly for everyone, but mainly, we suggest, to corral those ruffians that live in particular housing estates.

In other words it is not what you do wrong, or how often you stray, but it does matter what your surname is and what address you live at.

That is the way it has been for generations. Those who have attended local courts for professional purposes such as court reporting, solicitors, barristers at work, will know exactly where I am coming from.

Or so they should.

But, surprise, surprise, they may not always admit it.

That the tail more often than not wags the dog in modern Ireland, and has done in the ago too, there is no doubt.

I have always contended that little men, women too with big egos and equally large portions of arrogance came together and still congregate in dark rooms, putting together the Ten Commandments as they see them.


Thou shalt not…

Take for instance the recent hikes on low priced alcohol, price rises that we were told by our so considerate politicians, were to save us from the fires of Hell or from death by drowning in a tub of Dutch Gold.

Of course, a majority of us fully realize that over indulgence in gargle can induce any number of serious or indeed fatal illnesses.

More sicknesses perhaps than there are beers, stouts and whiskies, and it is not as if we don’t have brewery after distillery packed with fire water.

My point?

A huge emphasis was put on the tipple of the ordinary Joe and Josephine Soap, a few cans of Guinness, our local brew Smithwicks or indeed a bottle or tin of craft beer from the ever-growing industry that produces the latter.

There was little or no mention of whiskies, brandies, champagne or any of a plethora of so-called top shelf products that, dare we say it, would be the preferred tipple of those who would carry a briefcase under one arm, a lunch box in disguise and the Irish Times under the other.


If you believe that the cheap tins were targeted to prevent ordinary folk from falling off bar stools too often, then you still have a relationship with the Tooth Fairy.

My inference is that ordinary decent folk, in the eyes of the so-called privileged, make mistakes only and stray while our well-heeled enjoy a relaxing few jars.

A survey some moons ago revealed that white collar workers in particular who decided to quit the drink for one month a year to show that they were not wed to porter almost always chose the month of February.

I wonder why?

Perhaps it is a coincidence, but said month also happens to be the shortest month on the calendar.

People in high places usually make rules or indeed don’t make any rules, to suit their own wants and needs.

For instance if politicians were really serious when they uttered the words ‘fair play’ and ‘democracy’ why would they allow landlord TDs and Ministers to decide what should or shouldn’t  be done to solve homelessness and a shortage of family homes.


Naturally, their hearts would be set on getting the best deal for their own ilk.

And God knows there are so many landlords in most parties in Dáil Éireann.

Similarly, following the crash of 2008, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) paid a courtesy visit, it was the so-called lower echelons of Irish Society that was burdened with paying the piper as banks were guaranteed and NAMA was founded.

Bank scandals were commonplace and those who partied with the now deceased so-called Celtic Tiger were brought crashing back to the real world.

The wagons were circled in what some might term the playgrounds of our aristocracy.

The brandy and champagne continued to flow but the cans of low priced porter were not spared a rap that would eventually come.

Our whole system is screwed up. 

There is scandal after scandal right up to the present time, with the cloudy proposed appointment of Katherine Zappone as a US Envoy.

Chief Medical Officer CMO) Dr Tony Holohan’s controversial secondment to a Trinity College medical position embarrassed even the set to retire CMO with Kilkenny connections.


It would appear that when it comes to errors who you are, what your standing is or where you live still applies when action is or is not taken.

If those in State bodies blunder, sometimes causing loss of life or serious injury, our national broadcaster RTE, the Government television, tells us that such a body has offered a ‘sincere apology’ to the family concerned.

No names, no pack drill, pay up any compensation from the public purse and the merry-go-round continues. 

In comparison, if a so-called Lilliputian is caught accepting a tenner from an elderly neighbour for mowing his or her lawn while on social welfare then there is Hell to pay.

A public rebuke from Tánaiste Varadkar or Taoiseach Martin, whichever of them gets to the mic first and a headline of shame in a local newspaper.

In the past when Varadkar spoke about ‘dole cheats’ he dug a deep hole for himself and had to crawl for cover with his spade and shovel.

The signs are there that we desperately need a Spring Cleaning of the way our country is run.

It won’t surprise if I am accused of having a chip on my shoulder.

Fair enough, but the accuser just may not want to see the wood for the trees.

Should the tail be allowed to continue to wag the dog then it is inevitable that someone will throw a cat among the pigeons.

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