Tuesday 17 October 2017

Brians couldn't help it: it was just their nature

Last Thursday's latest humiliation aside, let's not forget who the two authors of this mess are, says Brendan O'Connor

DOUBLE JEOPARDY: Was it legal for two men to bring down the country like that? Photo: Steve Humphreys
DOUBLE JEOPARDY: Was it legal for two men to bring down the country like that? Photo: Steve Humphreys

We've had a lot of hurtful, humiliating days in this country in the last few years. But for some reason, Thursday felt like the ultimate humiliation. It may not have been as apocalyptic as some other days.

But it certainly dented our national pride. It felt like the day we gave in, when we finally admitted we weren't fit to run a country. Names and institutions that we all grew up with, the pillars, to use that word, of Irish life, to use those words, had finally come tumbling to dust. We had made fools of ourselves with our half-dozen big banks. In reality, all we can handle is two small ones. The little country that could was finally getting back in its box. It was a sad day.

You're bamboozled by numbers at this stage, but here are a few really simple ones to get a load of. The day before the latest sequel, 'Bank Bailout Five -- This Time It's For Real, Honest', BBC business editor Robert Peston wrote dispassionately on his blog about the real state of Irish bank debt. He was assuming the extra money the banks would need on Thursday would be €30bn, so he was assuming a total of €75bn state investment in the banks. He was roughly right, so let's stick with his figure. After all, what's five billion between Irish people anymore? Peston said that he has a small panic attack when he thinks about this number, because it represents 55 per cent of our GNP.

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