I’ve just been reading comments on a thread by Steve Wall about the problems facing musicians in Ireland. They’re more or less the same problems facing artists, and it would be tempting to think that it’s an arty thing. One of the arty things I trained in is writing dialogue, so I’ve a fair eye for spotting thematic relationships in dialogues. The stuff the musos and artists are talking about is the the same thing that families with children are talking about, or over-taxed people in drudge jobs are talking about, or unemployed people are talking about, or sick people on trolleys in A&E’s are talking about. So I’ve reduced all the myriad problems to one word, and that word is disrespect. There is widespread disrespect being shown towards the Irish people, not only from people in power, but from ourselves when we are in positions to yay or nay a fellow Irish person’s progress. We almost always nay, because we disrespect ourselves. Disrespect of each other seems to be our national habit. Our government, our elected disrespectors if you like, are patently not working for us, because they don’t respect us. In fact all their policies seem to suggest that they believe we are worthy of being punished. So they are not working for us, they are working against us, and seem to be working for somebody else. They are likely allowing themselves to be disrespected by somebody else, because they are us. What is happening is happening because we are allowing it, because at root, maybe because of our history, maybe we still feel we “deserve” disrespect. Disrespect seems to be our currency, and when any of us get in a position to divvy it out to our fellows, we do so with the greatest of enthusiasm. And we did it during the boom, to each other and to the migrant workers. That’s how we’ve arrived here. So what is happening in the arts, to the musos, to the young and the old, and poor and infirm, and to all the disrespected of Irish society is just a symptom of an overall malaise of general disrespect. There is a long overdue post-colonial and post Church-abuse debate needed in this country that just might be the key to understanding why we seem to trade so habitually and destructively in currencies of mutual disrespect and exploitation.