Back in the second half of 1990s and the first half of the noughties we were reminded about the national "Feel Good Factor". Yes property prices (as well as most other prices) were on the rise, but most people were able to find jobs and cope. Beyond the economy, things were also looking good. We were casting aside the pervasive influence of the Catholic church, Irish writers, musicians, singers and sport people were making their mark on the international stage. Dublin was regularly noted as the "coolest" capital city in Europe and peace had come to Northern Ireland. Emigration had turned to immigration For the first time since the Free State had left the U.K. , there seemed to be a justification for Ireland going it alone.
Now move the clock forward to today. The national air of doom and gloom is palpable. No amount of cheer-leading by RTÉ and sympathetic elements within the media can disguise that we are among the sickest of the sick men of Europe, economically. While previous governments stood up to Europe in making sure we got our share of grant aid and protected our tax regime, the current government seems intent on being as subservient as possible to our European neighbours. Recessionary budget after recessionary budget have failed to tackle the core issue; the government continues to spend more than it takes in taxes. Our younger generation are again voting with their feet and leaving the country. The suicide rate is at an all time high.
I have followed politics and current affairs in this country since the 1970s and I don't believe that national morale has ever been so low. There's a sense that it makes no difference, who's in government. No one will do anything of substance to turn things around. No one has the "vision thing" of how we can get out of this seemingly bottomless spiral of recession, unemployment. There seems to be a national sense of longing. The Portuguese have a word; "saudade" that doesn't easily translate to English, but those that understand it will know what I mean. Our national "feel bad factor" is at record levels.