Editorial: We must never go back to dark days of Troika
There was indeed "a certain shiver" at seeing the Troika back in Dublin yesterday. Happily, they were back for a conference which was to serve as a sort of inquest into how we lost our economic sovereignty and to see how we are now regaining it.
Little more than one year after the bailout exit, the day-long conference was a good opportunity to reflect on a very grim experience for all the Irish people. Such reflection, if it is to mean anything, must be first and last about how we can ensure that such an appalling thing is never again allowed to happen.
The admission of "a certain shiver" came from Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin. We fervently hope that this frank statement means he and his Cabinet colleagues base all their plans on ensuring we cannot ever return to those darkest hours in this State's history.
Another apposite comment came from International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who has shown herself to be a friend of Ireland in troubled times. She said the Irish people were "the real heroes" and it was important that gains from their three years of intense sacrifice were not lost as quickly.
We must proceed with caution - but we must proceed. People are sick, sore and tired of economic austerity. Today, we bring you details of an opinion poll which says the majority of people feel they are surviving rather than living. The people now need tangible signs of hope, the kind of pick-up which would further drive the recovery by stimulating domestic demand.
In a big picture assessment, we can say the Troika bailout plan worked and the Government deserves some credit. But we must also acknowledge that the Government made little progress on important things it was less convinced about, including real reform of the health services and legal system.
The year since the Troika's departure saw a pretty rudderless performance by the Government. That cannot be allowed to happen in 2015.
The Troika bailout was an economic health warning which must be heeded. We can all learn to work for sustainable growth and real prosperity. Or, we can drift back to the dark days. The choice is ours.
Dumping toxic sludge poses risk to all
It is simply not acceptable that, in a supposedly first-world country, thousands of people are forced to boil their tap water before they can safely drink it.
It's even less acceptable that a group of criminals masquerading under the 'Republican' banner contaminate the water supply and risk poisoning up to 50,000 people in their efforts to make a quick buck from illegal fuel-laundering.
The chemicals released into rivers in Counties Louth and Armagh place people at risk of cancer and other life-threatening conditions, as well as causing widespread damage to wildlife and the environment.
Exposing people to such risks is a peculiar way to win hearts and minds.
Under-pressure plants simply cannot be expected to remove this toxic sludge when they are already working to remove basic impurities and dangerous bugs.
We are already struggling to provide clean drinking water to our citizens following years of under-investment. Dumping this filthy sludge only makes the struggle to provide safe drinking water harder to achieve.