Saturday 25 February 2017

Plenty more battles to fight if economic war is to be won

Marc Coleman quizzes the Tanaiste on his tactics for dealing with the ECB chief and his own Budget dissenters

Marc Coleman

Marc Coleman

A NOSE FOR CAUTION: Jean Claude Trichet warned us in 2005 to rein in our spending
A NOSE FOR CAUTION: Jean Claude Trichet warned us in 2005 to rein in our spending
UNNECESSARY SUFFERING: Eamon Gilmore is annoyed at 'austerity hawks' – 'It is possible for us to reach our targets – and without an adjustment of €3.1bn.' Photo: Tony Gavin

A few weeks back, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore attended the 1913 Lockout commemoration that is the start of several such events in the coming decade. And as we exit the bailout this year we are in an economic sense re-enacting one of those centenaries. Our economic war of independence is still ongoing and on Thursday I asked the Tanaiste about his role in the crucial battles, his plans to haul Jean Claude Trichet before the banking inquiry and whether some ministers are more interested in a civil war than a War of Independence. Finally, I asked him if the full €3.1bn adjustment wanted by the Troika is good or bad for the war effort.

In fairness to the Tanaiste – and his department, which covers trade and foreign affairs – they have two crucial victories under their belts so far in this war. Our exports are growing at double the rate of world trade growth. The vigilance of Gilmore and his team – and Enterprise Ireland and the IDA – in conducting trade missions around the world (this author helped with one of them) has helped put a strong wind at the back of our exporters. They have also been instrumental in restoring a national reputation badly damaged by the previous administration.

"We have worked over the last two-and-a-half years to rebuild our reputation in terms of trade and to expand our reach. We have decided to consciously use our embassy network to lead that to co-ordinate the entire trade effort across government," Gilmore said.

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