There was much crying and gnashing of teeth from politicians and government officials Saturday over mass outdoor gatherings of mostly young people in Dublin and Cork. After over a year’s worth of lockdowns, the drink-filled gatherings were lambasted by a wide variety of sources, including Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan (PBUH) who said he was ‘absolutely shocked’ by them, comparing them to an ‘open-aired party’.
This outrage however was met with stern opposition. Other commentators, on both the left and right ends of the political spectrum came out against the campaign of castigation, often citing the relatively low level of risk posed by the gathering, as well as the multiple failings of both the Government and local authorities to adequately prepare for gatherings that any reasonable individual could see were ultimately inevitable.
The controversy serves as the latest flashpoint between Ireland’s ruling class and the youth of the nation. While the modern State has always had an issue properly catering for the youth under its charge, the relationship between the two has only soured with the pandemic. What was once a relationship of mild disdain now drifts ever towards abject hatred, as the younger generations move ever more towards the populism of Sinn Féin and the nascent right-wing in response to inept governance.
As the world collapses around them, all that is left for the youth of our nation is to rampantly abuse alcohol and other substances on the streets of our cities, desperate to forget the times they are living in.
The Government, weak and ineffective in its ability to maintain and administer justice, has left these generations with little to nothing to hold on to, both ideologically and materially. The levels of opportunity within the State have utterly withered with the growth of globalism. As talking heads remind us that Irishness is nothing more than a piece of paper, they simultaneously expect the youth to carry the brunt of the State’s financial burdens caused by both this health crisis as well as the financial crises before it.
In response, our generation lashes out. Binge drinking culture has always been a problem for the Irish nation, but recent years have seen a substantial increase in the use of hard drugs, such as cocaine, as well as gang violence amongst the young people of this country.
While I believe Holohan’s comments to be narrow-minded at best, I do agree that Saturday’s events in Dublin can only be described as shocking indeed. I myself had business in the city at the time, and traversing the streets felt much like journeying through an Irish variant of Dante’s inferno. As I struggled to avoid pools of vomit and splatters of blood, my own contemporaries screamed and shouted, out of their mind in Dionysian revelry as they roamed the absolute kip that is Dublin city. This is not the world Pearse dreamed of. Hell, I would wager that it’s well beyond what were his worst nightmares.
As our island slowly drowns under a multitude of crises, the various generations of young people are left with nothing better to do than to drink, smoke and snort the night away, with no care for the world around them. Those older of course look on at this behaviour in disgust, asking how these youngsters could act with no regards to their city.
But they are hardly unique in this. The Government has been so lax on public safety that the women in my life are no longer willing to walk the streets alone at night, and the local councils don’t seem to care what happens, so long as the vomit-soaked pavement the many homeless must sleep on is rainbow-coloured. If the people who rule Ireland’s cities do not care for them, how can we expect the youth to?
As our ruling class starts another round of castigation aimed at the youth of our nation, let us remind ourselves of how we got here. A shambolic pandemic response, combined with a housing crisis and a boat load of national debt has left Young Ireland with little hope. With all this in mind, are we really surprised that young people act out in such ways? I know I’m not.