Just when we thought the economy was purring nicely...
Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30
Though the election is almost upon us, there seems to be an absence of a refined awareness of the way the country is setting itself up for yet another financial crisis. Economic crises usually take a long time to incubate, but financial crises start with a bang.
The gathering clouds result from a reluctance to absorb, in a robust and dispassionate way, how the glaring signs of the Celtic Tiger's terminal illness eluded those in charge. Ireland was in the grip of euphoria.
This is surprising in the light of the fact that we Irish tend to suspect good fortune. For instance if you offer the greeting, "What a lovely sunny day!" the response tends to be, "Aye, but will it last?"
On visits to Dublin, my enthusiasm for Ireland's prosperity was regularly curbed by the suggestion that it was not going to last; common sense was bubbling away in the Irish psyche.
Banks in Ireland continue with an inadequate level of liquidity to cushion any sudden change of fortunes. They are still in the gambling business, with the risks that involves.
They persist in paying bonuses to employees as a reward for doing what they are already well paid to do.
Clearly, interest rates have been kept too low for far too long.
Credit remains too easy to acquire and property prices are on the rise again, creating an increasing demand for borrowing. This vicious circle seems unstoppable.
What adds to our troubles is the lack of consistency in the financial regulatory systems across Europe and beyond. Shane Molloy (Letters, February 15) wisely warns us that "we are sleepwalking through a very unstable world with a meltdown looming in the global economy, both finance and trade".
Short-termism and vacuous promises plague our politics as we stumble from one election to another. Only those with a grasp of the long-term view deserve our vote.
Forget whingers, we're suckers
Pity for poor Enda with his latest gaffe about whingers in Mayo. How much this affects his party's chances on Friday is anyone's guess.
Perhaps he should encourage his soldiers with a paraphrased version of the Bookies' Creed:
Breathes there a TD with soul so dead
Who never to himself has said
Keep your spirits young and gay
For on Friday the suckers will vote our way
Question is, how many suckers are left?
Tramore, Co Waterford
There is always hope
Some words of comfort from the wise and ancient seem apt as we face the final week of torture - ahem - campaigning, in Election 2016.
Mark Twain said: "If voting made a difference, they wouldn't let us do it". Not quite as cynical as it appears, when one considers the 2008 revelation that banking across Europe enjoys a degree of collective underwriting by the citizenry hitherto unknown.
WB Yeats wrote: "Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man, Ireland shall have her freedom, but you will still break stone." He was right. Politicians will enjoy, or not, a different preview next week. The rest will continue to break stone. And words of advice from Quintus Cicero to his more famous brother, Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman statesman and general: "The people need somebody to believe in, so be that person. Never underestimate the power and appeal of hope. Convince the voters that you will make their world a better place. Remember it is inevitable you will let down at least some of the voters after you come to power."
The last word goes to Yeats: "The lash goes on".
Lisdowney, Co Kilkenny
Welcome back the opposition
It is of interest to look at the coverage of previous elections and compare it with the coverage of this one. The coverage of this election, for example, contrasts sharply with the coverage of the boom-time 2002 election. The attitude to government and opposition then and now could not be more different.
In contrast to the criticism the present Government is getting now, the government in 2002 was hailed as delivering "an extraordinary journey of sustained national achievement".
The then government was also praised for offering "new roads and hospitals where you won't die waiting for a bed". The queues in A&E are more the topic in this present election.
It was even declared back then that "all the great battles on corruption and taxation had been won". Tribunals and corrupt politicians, how are you?
The then opposition was declared "stupid and bumbling". The current opposition is having a field day in comparison.
The opposition then was scoffed at for advocating "greater efficiency and effectiveness in the public service weeks before an election". There was, however, a forecast that in the 2002 election "the only sector of the public service where there will be a reduction in overall numbers is in the opposition". That forecast actually turned out to be right. It was seen as a good thing in 2002 that it was "20 years since an opposition party was elected into government". Now it is change that is seen as a good thing.
All of which reminds us of the ironic possibility that, but for the collapse and the bailout in 2009-2010, the 2002 government could be going for its seventh successive re-election.
Sutton, Dublin 13
Politicians need confidence
Doom merchants are telling us that instability in government is bad for us. This is not true. Here are two pieces of evidence that instability is good.
1. In Belgium, there was no government for over one year after an election in 2010. But today, in 2016, Belgium is doing just fine.
2. This week, in Britain, the British cabinet is completely divided on opinion about whether or not to leave the EU. But this is not a problem, because this is how democracy works. British politicians cope with uncertainty. They each argue their point of view coherently. That is their job. So, finally the British citizen will hear the issue discussed in depth by both politicians and by experts, before voting. That's why their referenda are not failures, like ours.
This is politics for confident, grown-up people.
In order to grow up and mature, people must go through a period of uncertainty. When they feel anxious, they must step out of their comfort zone. Irish politicians have never done this and they can't cope.
Voters, 100 years after 1916, it's time for us to grow up.
Dr Maeve White
Rathfarnham, Dublin 14