Wednesday 25 April 2018

Editorial: Bailout exit is a modest success

Michael Noonan
Michael Noonan

THE satirist Dean Swift was thinking of somewhat more savage measures than those imposed by the Troika when he wrote A Modest Proposal. However, when it comes to the end of our status as a Troika protectorate, the same phrase represents the fairest summary of what has actually been secured. In fairness, an ever more sure-footed Coalition has been careful not to oversell the consequences of this exit. It was right, too, for had this administration gone to the electorate in 2011 and said its main objective was not so much full independence from the Troika, but rather a form of Home Rule, it would correctly have been seen as representing a pretty 'modest proposal' that would most assuredly not have won 113 seats. That said, we should not undersell the significance of the Coalition's successful exit from the bailout, for it had many perilous paths to tread in working through the dreadful deal negotiated by their appalling predecessors.

Pat Rabbitte may regret admitting it is in the nature of Irish politics that vainglorious pre-election promises are generally followed by humbler results. But whilst this Coalition has followed a similar paradigm, we should not allow the excessive cynicism this trait breeds to corrode the real fiscal and psychological benefits that may accompany our exit.

As with the famous 'stepping stone' argument from a different, possibly even more traumatic debate, we have not yet secured "the ultimate freedom that all nations desire, but the freedom to achieve it". We shall probably never quite again enjoy the liberty Ireland possessed before the crash, but within Europe at least Ireland is no longer one of the European PIGS. That small freedom allows us, in the words of Michael Collins, to say, "give us the future, we have had enough of your past, give us back our country to live in, to grow in, to love". Mind you, as a Collins aficionado like Enda will know, for that to happen, our political and mandarin class have to first show they have learnt that "freedom imposes responsibilities".

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