Thursday 25 August 2016

EU 'good child' must get bolder

Published 04/11/2012 | 05:00

A FUNDAMENTAL dishonesty has infected Europe and Ireland's response to the ongoing economic crisis. No amount of communiques about Ireland, the 'shining example', can disguise the inability of the twin fiscal horsemen of austerity and appeasement to cure the Irish disease.

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Last week Germany may have smiled, but Enda returned once again with empty saddlebags. And the time is fast approaching when that particular ongoing feature of Mr Kenny's and Mr Noonan's foreign sojourns will lose its charm. Ireland's status as the Prodigal Son of European economics mean we richly deserve the current lessons on moral hazard our German Sunday School teacher constantly delivers to us. But we should not be the only ones in the classroom, for it is all too easily forgotten that no one forced the banks to open up their treasure chest of credit. The freedom they were accorded to ruin us lies in stark contrast with the abject denouement of these actions where a supplicant government which had utterly lost the confidence of the citizenry was forced, at the point of a fiscal knife, into the now discredited experiment of bailing out the banks with sovereign debt.

Of course, smiles would have been absent last week had Enda Kenny informed Ms Merkel that moral hazard cuts both ways. But whilst Irish charm has its virtues, these are modest ones when compared to the honest rigour of straight talking. Europe and Germany needs to be told shared guilt equates to shared responsibility, as distinct from the current amoral pragmatism where, to protect continental bankers, 'Gaza strip countries' such as Ireland and Greece are 'permitted' to become the fiscal equivalent of a 'stabilised' methadone user. Such an abject condition is not compatible with the dignity any 'free' society should aspire to. Astonishingly, though, Mr Kenny and an increasingly timorous administration have decided that instead of speaking truth to power they will allow this ignoble dependency to continue indefinitely.

There is an alternative vision to fulfil the 'national government' mandate given to the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste. If this is to belatedly occur Mr Kenny must tackle the dysfunctional management of the public sector and a pillar banking system that continues to be unfit for any purpose beyond personal enrichment. Desperate times also call for a major Roosevelt-style act of personal debt re-structuring to end the vicious cycle where there is insufficient money in circulation to sustain a domestic economy. Above all else, Mr Kenny needs to realise it is past time to tell Europe some inconvenient truths about how the current good child of the EU will be forced to take a radically different approach in the absence of a solution to our banking debt. If you're wondering Enda, such a policy is called national self-determination. People like Michael Collins fought for it once.

Sunday Independent

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