Rarely has a news story been more perfectly calibrated to appeal to the various prejudices of Ireland’s media class than the news this weekend that two young women had absconded from their mandatory appointments with two-week detention, having returned from Dubai, where they had gone to have cosmetic surgery.

The women in question, we are told, are single mothers. They apparently either do not work, or work so little that the cost of their bail fees were beyond them. They sought, we are repeatedly informed, free legal aid. And at the same time they could afford the (surprisingly modest) cost of breast enhancements halfway around the globe. We are not supposed to be on their side. They have been decreed to be figures of fun, and ridicule, and revulsion. “Where did they get the money?” we’re told to ask, as if that matters, or has any bearing at all on the reason for their detention.

All of the taxpayer funded organisations which exist to defend the rights of women are, of course, silent. Imagine for a moment how differently these women would be being treated if, instead of having travelled for breast enhancement, they were travelling for gender re-assignment surgery. Breast removal, not breast enhancement. Do we think their names would be being broadcast on RTE? Do we think journalists would be asking where they got the money? Or do we think in that case our media might be engaging in a period of respectful silence with regard to the story, lest they earn the wrath of the woke? Only some people in this country get that kind of protection, though.

The only crime these women committed, after all, was to travel for their cosmetic surgery to Dubai. According to our entirely stupid new laws, you must quarantine if you arrive in Ireland from Dubai. Had they gone on a wild week in Santa Ponza in Spain, or gone for a boob job in Croatia, they would have been able to come into Ireland without any requirement at all to quarantine. In fact, had they gone to any other EU country (aside, bizarrely, from Austria) they would have committed no crime at all.

This whole mess for them, and for the rest of us, exists only because Ireland’s mandatory quarantine law is amongst the most absurd pieces of legislation ever enacted by an Irish Government. The people who should be embarrassed today are not the allegedly buxom duo whose names have adorned every newspaper and news broadcast in recent days – no. The people who should be embarrassed are the ones who are paid a hundred thousand euros a year to draft our laws and decided that quarantine should apply to the Caribbean Netherlands and Dubai and a few islands in the south pacific, but not to France, or Germany, or Spain.

The mandatory quarantine law will not prevent the spread of coronavirus. It is highly doubtful that it is even intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus. It is a law designed for one purpose – to make it look as if the powers that be are doing something.

And so, to make it look as if they are doing something, it is necessary for the boob-seeking twosome to be publicly humiliated and shamed, even though they pose about as much threat to you, or your family, or your freedoms as the Irish soccer team poses to the opposing goalmouth.

The media, of course, has been eager to rush to help to make an example. RTE, apparently, shared their names and addresses with the public. The media has taken a typically thorough approach to seeking to help the public understand breast enhancement surgery. Social media has been filled with wise guys demanding to “see the evidence” that the surgery ever occurred. Great craic altogether.

We are supposed to be angry with the women for seeking free legal aid, and not with the Irish state for arbitrarily locking them up, while thousands of others who were lucky enough to go on their holidays somewhere else walk through arrivals undisturbed. Incidentally, we are also supposed to be angry with them for availing of free legal aid, and not at the politicians who have made free legal aid available to almost anybody who wants it.

All of this is fantastically corrosive. But it fits a tried and tested pattern in recent Irish history. Those responsible for real scandals – be it in the Beacon Hospital, Davy Stockbrokers, the Government, or anywhere else – avoid any meaningful consequences. But one of the ordinary people – the underclasses – who steps a foot out of line? Well, they will be torn to pieces.

Ireland is a country, after all, that jailed a man for importing garlic without the correct paperwork, but which regularly gives rapists the chance to provide character witnesses for themselves in court. We spent tens of millions investigating corruption in the Moriarty Tribunal, uncovered the corruption, wrote a thousand-word report on it, and prosecuted…. Nobody.

But the two Dublin Girlos who went off to get their boobs done? They are being made an example of.

When people say – sometimes in an over-the-top way – that Ireland has many of the characteristics of a failed state, this is the kind of thing they mean. And the country will never, ever, be fixed, or well governed, until the people start getting their priorities right.

Free the boob-job two.