Events of the last seven days tell us a lot about our country and the state it currently finds itself in.
We found out last Monday that we have all been sold a lie of huge proportions by our Government. The IMF last April warned that Nama would not resolve Ireland's credit issues as we had been led to believe. This is the latest of a steady stream of alarm bells which lead me to believe that Nama is doomed to fail.
And we also saw our Government stand idly by as Bank of Scotland (Ireland) axed 750 jobs because the institution wasn't of systemic importance to the Irish banking sector.
Already dogged by delays, and increasing accusations of cronyism, the IMF revelation is highly damaging and cuts to the fundamental core of Nama's credibility and that of this Government.
When it comes to the banking crisis and how we are to get out of this mess, it is clear that Brian Cowen and his beleaguered ministers are drastically out of touch with a deeply troubled electorate aching for change and real leadership.
Eighteen months on from the crash in September 2008, and now caught in the crossfire of a lack of credit and higher taxes to pay for the bank bailout, Irish people, including those who have been forced out of business or who have lost their jobs, are incredibly angry at those bailing out the banks and desperately want vengeance against those who brought the country to its knees.
This is according to the findings of the latest Sunday Independent/ Millward Brown Lansdowne national poll of over 1,000 people from all over Ireland.
A massive majority of them want to see criminal prosecutions against those who have brought the country to its knees as a result of their greedy and reckless behaviour. When we asked "do you think that criminal prosecutions should be pursued against those in the banking sector found to have been in breach of financial regulations" a huge 91 per cent of those polled said they want to see those responsible for the banking crisis face criminal prosecution.
The lack of pace with the various investigations being carried out by the Director of Corporate Enforcement Paul Appleby and the gardai is clearly a source of real anger and frustration for the public.
On the issue of the Government's handling of the banking crash, 79 per cent said they are not satisfied with how the mess is being handled by Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and Taoiseach Brian Cowen. Of that, 58 per cent said they are not in any way happy with Government's performance while 21 per cent said they are not very satisfied.
Only three per cent said they are very satisfied with how the Government has handled the banking crisis. Nine per cent said they are somewhat happy while 79 per cent said they are discontented about how the crisis has been dealt with.
Included in this is the anger of many at the Government's failure to intervene before Bank of Scotland (Ireland) axed those 750 jobs, because it wasn't important enough to the Irish banking sector to protect. This will be of little comfort to those now out of a job.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the fate of our country is now inextricably linked to the future of our failed banking sector. Throughout last year, Mr Cowen and Mr Lenihan misled the country that Nama would be the answer to our credit woes in order to buy time to enable it to be set up.
The day after his Emergency Budget last April, Mr Lenihan stated boldly that Nama was "about bailing out the Irish economy. This is about ensuring that businesses who cannot access credit can access credit".
Then on September 10 last, Mr Cowen said: "All of our activity is toward protecting the taxpayer, while affecting a restructuring of the banking system which will help us deal with the core issue: more access to credit for Irish businesses at this time."
We now know that despite these claims by the two Brians, the IMF told the Government at the time that in fact Nama would have little impact in freeing up lending. Minutes of a private meeting at the Department of Finance between Mr Lenihan and IMF officials on April 29 last state that "the IMF do not believe that Nama will result in a significant increase in bank lending in Ireland".
This weekend, it is clear that the majority of Irish people also now don't believe Mr Lenihan about Nama's impact on the credit flow. According to the nationwide poll, 54 per cent don't believe Nama will free up lending in the Irish economy.
Leading economists have also increasingly become sceptical about Nama's prospects for improving the flow of money back into the economy, particularly for small businesses.
"It was a mistake by the Government to make promises in relation to what Nama could achieve because politically it will be all the more difficult in the next few months because the Government has to convince the public that more money will need to be put into the banks," UCD economist Karl Whelan said.
It is interesting how, in the wake of the IMF revelation, the language from the Government has reverted back to a far more basic position of extolling the virtues of Nama compared with doing nothing at all. This is very different to what we were being told a few short months ago.
What is also clear from our poll is that the public want to see a new approach from the Government when it comes to our banks and Nama. Just one in four said the current level of support to the banks is the right way to go. A large rump of people, 38 per cent, say the Government should let the banks fend for themselves, even if it means letting some of them fail. Another 27 per cent feel nationalisation is the best way to resolve the banking crisis.
With businesses and young couples screaming for a return to some normal level of credit availability, Nama is already two-and-a-half months behind schedule. The first transfer of loans from the top 10 developers was due to happen in December. Then we were told it would be mid-January, then late January, then early February.
According to Mr Lenihan himself, speaking last Monday, the first transfer is still several weeks off. He said: "I would anticipate in a matter of weeks that we will have initial valuations which will give a good indication of the general direction of valuation. And key decisions will then have to be taken about the capital requirements of the banks and the nature of the equity we require for all of the banks to put them back on a viable footing."
We have also learned that the original mark-down estimate of 30 per cent was also way off the mark, with valuations coming in much lower. This has huge implications for the taxpayer. Last week, the ratings agency Standard and Poor's estimated that the cost of Ireland's bailout would be as high as €25bn.
Philip Lane, the Trinity College Dublin economist, has said that the State taking a greater share in the banks through capitalisation is better than overpaying now for the bad assets, even if it is incredibly expensive.
Mr Lenihan and his special adviser Alan Ahearne have repeatedly stated that they hope private investors will want to buy equity stakes in the banks, but according to several leading economists, the chances of any private investment are virtually nil, leaving the entire burden on the shoulders of the taxpayer.
Karl Whelan adds: "My suspicion is that once the Nama loans are transferred, the size of the capital deficit in the big two banks will be so large that there will be limited interest from private investors. So if we want to keep these banks going, we are going to have to invest state funds.
He also said that if things are as bad as they seem to be, then the Government cannot ignore having to nationalise the entire banking system, because of the amount of capital needed in the banks.
"If the Irish banks are to fully function and provide credit in the proper way, then they are going to have to be well capitalised, better capitalised than they were before the crisis. And if that means a lot of money needs to come from the State, and or a temporary period of nationalisation, then the Government is going to have to accept that as an outcome, even if it is one that it has not considered desirable all along," Mr Whelan said.
Whelan's colleague at UCD, Colm McCarthy, agrees. "How much extra debt will arise from dealing with the banking crisis? It's going to be substantial. But to set against that the State does have assets in the form of the remaining equity investments in the National Pensions Reserve Fund (NPRF), it could liquidate those. It is going to be a big burden on the Exchequer for many years to come."
What is now as clear as day is that after the loan transfer to Nama, the State will be the majority stakeholder in both AIB and Bank of Ireland. Mr Lenihan's prediction back in September 2008 about the State going "deep, very deep" into the Irish banking sector is unfortunately coming true.
The Government has repeatedly maintained that it wants to avoid nationalising the banks but has conceded that further state capital will have to go in to the big two, and it is looking increasingly likely that the taxpayer will own as much as 80 per cent in both banks.
The Department of Finance said this weekend: "The Government has always stated that it wanted to avoid wholesale 100 per cent nationalisation due to the difficulties it creates for funding the financial system and the sovereign. When the State takes over the financial system, it becomes responsible for funding the system. Moreover, a statutory takeover (as was done in the case of Anglo) of the two main banks would mean the banks would no longer be listed on the stock exchange, which would make it difficult for the State to divest itself of its stakes."
To date, the State has put in €3.5bn to both AIB and Bank of Ireland in return for preference shares. The cover for this was that the taxpayer would get an eight per cent dividend return -- but the EU has put a stop on this.
Also, John Corrigan, of the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), has admitted to an Oireachtas committee that the Bank of Ireland dividend which is due next week won't be paid on time. He said the NTMA is willing to let the BOI coupon deadline drift a bit, to allow the EU to make the decision. Another shifting of the goalposts.
Nama has also been dogged by accusations of cronyism by appointing firms like Arthur Cox to represent them despite them also representing the Government as well as a number of the financial institutions.
It also emerged last weekend that Nama had appointed a Limerick legal firm, Dermot G O'Donovan to a panel of legal advisers, despite two of its partners being named as directors of a liquidated firm that owes over €100m to Anglo Irish Bank.
"Nama was designed to do two things," Richard Bruton of Fine Gael said. "One, to get credit going, and second to avoid nationalisation. If the taxpayer is hit for €20bn, then we will have nationalisation by the back door and we still have the problem of credit not flowing."
So, the deeply wounded Irish public feel they are now left watching the greatest swindle in the history of this State. Sadly, there is little evidence so far to say they are wrong.