Have you ever heard of Irish author, Robert Noonan? Noonan, a Dubliner, is probably better known to the world as Robert Tressell - after the painter and decorators' bench on which he plied his trade, his experiences of which can be found in The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists.
I read it yonks ago - when I was a mere slip of a thing in my twenties - and enjoyed it immensely. I remember that Tressell was merciless in his satirisation of the supposed "charitable" tendencies of the factory owners, assorted town worthies and their wives, and the clergy. The former loved to be seen doing "good deeds" for charity, even as they created the very conditions for such in their grimy, exploitative, sweatshop establishments.
The book was set in the Edwardian era, between 1901-1910... around the time the bockety old house I grew up in was built, in fact - fashioned by Tressell's very contemporaries.
That house still stands - just about - and the "charitable" characters so keen to be seen doing "good deeds" are very much alive and thriving in Ireland... or living for tax reasons outside it. You know the list: J.P. McManus, Dermott Desmond, Denis O'Brien and the like.
Sure, they are doing nothing illegal. Maybe if I was stinking rich I'd get out of the place too, not only for the sake of getting out of the place, but to "minimise my tax liability" . I don't know for sure, but if the Euromillions numbers come up, I will keep you posted.
What gets me is the hypocrisy of - on the one hand - denying a very broke Irish exchequer much-needed revenue and - on the the other - being seen to do "good deeds" in the eyes of the ever-dopey, ever-passive, ever-gobshitey Irish public.
Not all of them are, thankfully. Quite a few people are slowly wising up to the antics of one Bono Vox, pop star, tax-avoidance specialist, and sickeningly pompous, self indulgent, charity posturer.
Witness the following from the usually vacuous "The Gloss", which came with last Thursday's Irish Times:
We're speculating as to who on earth could be responsible for the new graffiti in Killiney? "Bono: shorted-assed tax cheat lives down here", it reads, in red, with an arrow helpfully pointing the way to the singer's house.
Neighbours have observed that the graffiti is in the CCTV blind spot, and therefore must have been executed by someone who knows the area very well.
(See simulated Gombeen Nation graffiti - as it might have appeared - above. Not very scientific, I know, but I can't be arsed driving out to Killiney to take a photo).
To get in on the fashion/gossip magazine spirit, one wonders if the culprit might have been grumpy Belfast contrarian Van Morrisson, who lives nearby? He might not be all sweetness-and-light, our Van, but I can't imagine his hypocrisy-tolerance-level to be too high either.
And do you know what? Despite being a grumpy so-and-so who doesn't bang on about saving the planet and spend time cosying up to world leaders - ostensibly to persuade them to do the same - he has, to the best of my knowledge, never availed of the artists' tax exemption.
He pays his taxes which must run into monetary multiples of other popsters' "good deeds".
Maybe Van really is the man?
And maybe a word for JP, Dermott, Denis and the rest:
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