I love Irish politicians.
Just when I start to think that they might actually be capable of doing something intelligent, they invariably make a total mess of it.
But just as predictable is the faux outrage when they say or do something as remarkably tactless as Michael Noonan did today.
After over a year of austerity and and a general election it should be no surprise to people that he believes that emigration is a lifestyle choice.
He can’t afford to believe anything else.
Why else would he preside over slash-and-burn budgets and the wanton destruction of social services?
Why else would he introduce a finance act that will cost workers an inordinate amount with little hope of creating any jobs?
Why else would he keep tugging his metaphorical forelock as the IMF and the ECB told him how great we all are, that, in Brian Lenihan’s memorable fallacy “our plan is working”?
Their plan might be working, but much of Ireland isn’t, and the wave of emigration is testament to that.
I went on Pat Kenny’s Frontline program just before Christmas determined to give a positive view of the life of the emigrant – after almost 13 years abroad I can safely say it’s not a death sentence.
But all the while I was sitting in the TV studio with my collar buttoned up, I was aware of the enormous hurt and loneliness and pain that emigration causes, and there was no way in the world I would have said anything to try to lessen them.
Emigration is immensely painful for most people. If you don’t believe me, hang around an Irish airport some morning and see for yourself.
You’ll see fathers commuting off to God knows where in search of a week’s work.
You’ll see young people with packed bags and empty eyes heading off to places they know little about.
You’ll see the tired 40-year-olds who thought their travelling days were done, once again heading off with 10 kilos of hand luggage and the e-mail address of an old friend in Berlin.
You’ll see it in my inbox every week as people write looking for advice on jobs and apartments and childcare as they abandon any hope they might have had of raising their family in their own country.
What you won’t see is the likes of Noonan, a life of political privilege having inured him from the harsh realities he and his ilk regularly foist upon the nation.
It seems like a trivial thing, but maybe not.
Maybe this piece of sublime stupidity will be the straw that breaks the back of the Irish camel.
Despite the fact that we went into this government and its contemptuous policy of cuts and austerity with our eyes wide open, we might finally choose to exercise our democratic rights.
Maybe this insult will help people to find their voice, to get up out of their armchairs and say no more.
Or maybe we’ll just keep heading to the airport and leaving the likes of Noonan to do their best to sort it out. Here’s hoping he won’t have the chance.
At the very least, Noonan has to go and be replaced by Joan Burton. The sooner we force an end to this charade the better.