Andrew Lynch: Varadkar's right, bankers just as bad as the IRA and should be treated same
Leo Varadkar is right. Fine Gael's ambitious young communication spokesman has caused uproar in the Dail by claiming that crooked bankers have done more harm to this country than the IRA ever did.
While some TDs may complain that this is going too far, the truth is that public anger will not die down until we see crooked financiers put behind bars -- and, despite the Government's reassurances, that day seems as far away as ever.
Comparing the banking highwaymen to IRA bombers is far more valid than it might appear at first sight.
The Provos may have been vicious killers, but at least their activities were confined to a relatively small section of the community.
The actions taken in plush boardrooms by white-collar criminals, however, will hurt every single taxpayer in the country and have created a debt that looks certain to hang around the necks of our grandchildren.
The IRA had its fair share of psychopaths, but nobody can deny there was a certain warped idealism behind all their butchery and bloodshed.
The bankers don't even have that excuse. Everything they did was motivated by pure greed -- and now it looks as if old-age pensioners and the unemployed will have to pick up the tab for their mistakes.
The Provos shamed Ireland in the eyes of the world. The bankers have done exactly the same, with the knock-on effect that international investors are now terrified of lending us any more money.
With the centenary of 1916 almost upon us, it seems that a new gang of well-heeled subversives have committed economic treason and cost us the sovereignty that so many genuine patriots died to achieve.
It is true to say that we would still have had huge economic problems even if every Irish banker had been as pure as the driven snow.
However, the €50bn bank bailout bill has made all the difference between a manageable crisis and one that leaves us looking like pawns in a much bigger game.
We are even facing the nightmare scenario of a third Lisbon Treaty referendum, specifically designed to put manners on countries such as us that let the whole side down.
So can we really have any confidence that justice will be served? Brian Lenihan has admitted that the garda probe into Anglo Irish seems to be taking forever, but he insists that files are now being prepared for the DPP.
While this sounds fine in theory, the depressing reality is that most of us will believe it when we see it.
The law is hugely weighted in favour of corporate gangsters, who can always claim that their actions were determined by incompetence rather than any malicious intent. Even in some of the more high-profile cases that we all know about, it will be notoriously difficult to make any charges stick.
However, that doesn't mean the Government shouldn't try its hardest anyway.
A few dramatic arrests and public trials would be far better than nothing, shaming these villains in public and putting their actions clearly on the record.
Slapping on the handcuffs won't make us any less poor -- but it might, just might, provide the closure that the country desperately needs before we can move on and mentally adjust to our new economic reality.
At the tender age of 31, Leo Varadkar is already being tipped as the next leader of FG.
If he can continue to tap into the public mood as effectively as he did this week, that day may come sooner than anyone expects.