Government fightback has been feeble
Published 18/11/2010 | 05:00
MEMBERS of the Cabinet have found themselves in the last week battling against the most serious assault on Ireland's financial reputation in the history of the State.
Critics from outside the country have questioned Ireland's solvency, its cash resources, its social cohesion, even its very future as an independent economic entity.
The attempts to see off the doubters have been feeble, with some ministers trying to denigrate reporting by highly reputable international news agencies. The most bizarre defence was mounted by Mary Hanafin, who said she wanted to discuss the coverage of Ireland in the 'Wall Street Journal' with the head of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
How the head of the NYSE was meant to rein in the Murdoch-owned newspaper wasn't made clear. It also wasn't made clear what would be achieved by having a dust-up with 'Journal' reporters, most of whom are just reporting facts, such as Ireland has surging bond yields and is locked out of the bond markets for the foreseeable future.
Torrents of mis-information have poured forth about Ireland in the past seven days, but is that the fault of the mis-informed or those in power who are supposed to shape and channel the message about Ireland to the outside world?
What is one to make of Taoiseach Brian Cowen's ridiculously complacent response to questions two weeks ago about projections that 100,000 people will leave the country by 2014?
Most are "non-nationals", he responded, and the others were mainly people who wanted to bulk out their CVs with overseas experience.
While in any crisis the truth becomes an early casualty, the fightback by those paid to set the record straight and offer an alternative version of events has been lamentable.