In less than two weeks' time, the results of the stress testing of the Irish banks will be published.
The new Finance Minister Michael Noonan has publically admitted that the planned €10bn capitalisation will not be enough to cover the ever increasing losses in our banks.
Some, even at the head of that new Government, fear the amount needed could be substantially more than that. Last Sunday, in a front-page story, I put that figure at €25bn.
This is on top of the €46bn already committed in bailout funds from the taxpayer and €30bn in Nama bonds and a further €70bn or so from the Central Bank in emergency funding.
Once again the Irish taxpayer is being called on to bail out those banks which through their own hubris and insanity during the past decade have brought this country to its knees.
Let us never forget that the actions of 100 people or so at the top of Irish banks have brought this country to the point of financial ruin.
Now, in isolation, the country's fiscal deficit (forecasted to be €12bn this year) is problematic but manageable, but when added to the colossal burden of the banking losses, Ireland can no longer keep its head above water.
Leading Trinity College economist Philip Lane said it was now questionable whet- her we could sustain this debt mountain.
"Is the size of the bank debt big enough so that the sovereign debt becomes unsustainable?" Lane said. "I think everyone would agree, it's a very close call at this stage."
Others have gone further. Richard Portes of the London Business School said: "Based on current government policies, I find it very difficult to see how Ireland can meet the sovereign obligations it has incurred in the medium-to- long term. The simple dynamics of debt require there needs to be growth if a country is to break out of this debt trap. And that is not going to happen if Ireland is to continue on this path of fiscal austerity. If you continue on this path it will ultimately lead to a sovereign default."
To my mind, the question is no longer whether Ireland should default but a question of when. We won't have a choice.
Former NTMA boss, Dr Michael Somers, said Ireland was now caught in a classic debt spiral.
"There is no way we will ever pay this stuff back, it will just be refinanced. The awful thing is that I know there are figures going around showing virtually no growth for the next three years and you ask yourself what comes after that, further tax hikes and you ask yourself how are we ever going to get out of this. We are in a downward spiral," he said.
With the voices of political extremism howling at the door
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in the new Dail, the centrist parties are fighting to take ownership of the issue of default.
Fine Gael TD Paschal Donohoe, who is admirably numerate for an Irish politician, has just published a hard-hitting pamphlet, "Why the 31st Dail should not be the default Dail".
Donohoe's document sets out the stark consequences of a unilateral default for Ireland. He warns that Ireland would lose all ability to borrow, thus forcing a 12 per cent cut in government spending overnight.
He said Ireland could expect to be out of the markets for five years if we do default, and said once we do return we would be facing higher interest payments.
"However, there are a number of reasons why an Irish default would be unprecedented and unique. First, Ireland is a member of a single currency zone. An immediate step taken by all modern defaulting economies has been to devalue their currency. This is to provide a quick 'stimulus' of export competitiveness. As Ireland does not have a national currency this option is not open to an Irish government.
"Second, Ireland is a developed country. The collateral impact of a developed economy default will be larger due to greater integration with the European economy.
"Third, the lender of last resort is already present in the Irish State. Defaulting economies have recourse to the IMF. Ireland has already done so with our participation in the IMF/EU support programme. A default involving non-payment to our lenders of last resort would be unprecedented."
Donohoe's concerns are shared by the likes of Somers, Peter Sutherland and Patrick Honohan, who argue Ireland cannot countenance default.
Others like David McWilliams, Constanin Guerdiev and former Chilean finance minister Andres Velasco argue defaulting on our bank debt is now Ireland's only viable option.
Velasco said: "If you look back in history, many, many countries have defaulted including some in Europe. It is not the end of the world and can be beneficial."
The next step after the stress tests results are known is that Ireland needs to conduct a debt audit, and separate its banking debt from its sovereign debt and start reducing the burden.
Let me be clear. Any debt owed by the State for the keeping of the lights on, keeping doctors and nurses working in our hospitals and teachers in our schools must be met and honoured in full.
But, Ireland must now tell those who gambled on our banks that they must take a hit. On that portion of the debt, €22bn in unguaranteed stuff and a further €60bn-plus of other bank-related stuff, Ireland must inflict losses on the investors who took a punt and failed.
It's like the old saying, if you owe the banks €40,000 they have you by the balls, if you owe them €40m, you have them by the balls. This is how Ireland needs to start dealing with the ECB.
Ireland, given how much we owe, has Europe and the ECB by the balls. It's time Finance Minister Michael Noonan started squeezing, and squeezing hard to ensure taxpayers are not left to pay for the crimes of our bankers.
UCD academic Daniel Thomas in a measured piece last week said that France and Germany, with their insistence that Ireland must offer up a "gesture", risk turning a pro-European country into a deeply Eurosceptic nation.
"If France, Germany and the European Commission maintain their hardline positions, they may well convert Ireland from a euro-friendly to a deeply eurosceptic country. If this happens, it is likely that any future EU treaty reform would be rejected by Irish voters, regardless of the new treaty's merits and regardless of how many referenda are held. Given the myriad challenges facing the EU, and the evident shortcomings of its current treaties, this would indeed be a bad outcome for all concerned."
Noonan has a tough road ahead to navigate. But, the bottom line is that Ireland has to default, and should do it quickly; otherwise we, as a country, will no longer be viable. Get squeezing, Michael.