Sunday 25 February 2018

This is why we are not taken seriously


What should happen and what will happen are two very different things. To anyone from outside, the solutions to Ireland's problems are simple.

We had a spectacular boom: now we have the mother of all busts. We should clear out and jail those who ruined our banks and bankrupted the country, force said banks to lend to small businesses to get the economy going again; burn senior bank bondholders, stand up to Jean-Claude Trichet and the ECB's continual bullying, and once and for all sort out our bloated and inefficient public sector.

Unfortunately, what will happen is quite different. After two-and-a-half years, nobody believes any banker will ever be jailed for what they did; there is no sign, despite the countless promises to date, that banks will lend money to the dead retail sector; and with Labour in power there is no chance of meaningful public sector reform despite a budget deficit of €19bn and a national debt of almost €100bn (and that's without the bank debt factored in).

Stories of senior managers getting 42 days' leave a year make a mockery of us in Europe. There is a reason they don't take us seriously.

We are now into our fourth year of economic morass, and we could at least be facing a further four before real growth returns. Oh, by the way, this IMF/EU bailout will also not be enough. We'll need another one after that. Ultimately, this country will suffer almost a decade-long slump because of what Seanie FitzPatrick and his cohorts got up to in our banks.

If Ireland also continues to be the whipping boy of Trichet, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, then they will have succeeded in turning a deeply pro-European country into a rabidly Eurosceptic island.

What we need now from our EU 'friends' is leeway. Why not give us a three-year holiday on our debt interest payments, which would release about €20bn back into the economy? That's the sort of help we need from our 'friends'.

Sunday Independent

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