The concept of a recovery is a return to health from sickness. In Ireland’s case, that sickness was probably 2006, when the boom brought out the worst in us: crass displays of wealth, disregard for the future and for one another, shocking waste in public services, poor planning, low-quality building and a rise in anti-immigration sentiment.

If we are in a recovery now, what have we recovered from exactly? Because this latter part of 2018 feels a lot like 2006. The material vulgarity versus inequality is back, and it’s worse than before. The volume has risen in booked-out bars and restaurants. The Range Rovers and Mercs of 2006 have simply become the Volvo SUVs and Teslas of 2018. The waste and destruction of the environment is in fashion again, but you’re apparently grand as long as your Aperol Spritz comes with a paper straw.

If we needed proof that the sickness of excess is back in vogue, take a look at the political class. A presidential race packed with candidates bragging about their business prowess as if creation of wealth were an innate talent rather than a flair for opportunism.

After Brian Cowen’s infamous 2009 sing-song, partying displays were avoided by politicians. Until swinging 2018 arrived. The Taoiseach is all about the glitz, quaffing Champagne at his party’s think-in and travelling about by helicopter. He’s driven in a BMW 735i, possibly the most luxurious and expensive State car in the history of the office. He dons expensive Canali suits and chats to showbiz columnists about flash city breaks. His ostentatious lifestyle is now so normal, it’s not even remarked upon.

There were zero new Bentleys bought in Ireland last year. In 2018, there were six by June

He’s just doing what other rich people do. The Champagne tent at the 2018 Dublin Horse Show was bursting, and the thunder of choppers returned to the Galway Races. There’s the tell-tale rise in drug busts, mostly involving cocaine, pointing to the burgeoning party scene in towns and cities.

The new selfish

The old arrogance is back, but new to this boom are those wretchedly selfish people who like to Facetime on loud speaker in public places or play screechy videos out loud. You can try giving the death stare but these people haven’t unbowed their heads since Twitter began.



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