Wednesday 22 January 2020

Pulling through despite the lies

By any standards it has been a remarkable, at times frightening week, for the vast majority of taxpayers attempting to grasp the enormity of our crisis. The level of ambiguity displayed by the banks in the lead-up to the €440bn bailout by those taxpayers was finally laid bare before the Dail Public Accounts committee.

It smacked of an attitude and era which fostered recklessness and risk-taking beyond belief.

We should not forget what was divulged this week. Banks bluffed in public about the state of their finances.

They were, at the very least, disingenuous in the way they presented their financial health.

In doing so, they increased exponentially the amount of liability taxpayers have had to guarantee. They left our senior politicians and civil servants with few options.

Taking drastic measures in a crisis that does not allow time for reasonable consideration is the stuff of nightmares for a country.

What we have learned, and no doubt have yet to discover, about how some lending institutions behaved should never, ever be forgotten.

Not this year, not next, never.

It is to our eternal credit as a nation that we have, despite a deep-seated anger, knuckled down and borne the inevitable.

Had we not, then the result would have been unthinkable.

It is a preposterously heavy burden, foisted on us by banks and an era of political freewheeling and unsustainable economic largesse.

It is one that imperils the hopes of so many and shatters the lives of so many more.

There are few bright spots and reports of daylight at the end of our tunnel are laced with ambiguity.

Yet when we look in on ourselves, there is a source of great hope. And it is to ourselves we must look, because we are the ones carrying this country on our shoulders.

Let us not forget that, and let our political leaders acknowledge it more.

What are we doing? With great, and lasting sacrifice, we are pulling through the worst crisis since the beginning of the State.

Yes, we detest the manner in which it has been imposed on us.

And having some of our politicians carrying on as if they have a right to first-class tickets on the gravy train makes us gag on an already bitter pill. But we are grinding on.

So this Saturday morning, the quiet and suffering army that is defending and buttressing Ireland with its sacrifices should stop for a moment and reflect on what it has achieved.

It won't make tomorrow's load any lighter. But the knowledge that we can should stiffen resolution that we will make it through.

Bitter lessons have been learned.

Trusts have been broken; not the spirit. And that is what will turn this crisis around.

But we should never forget.

Irish Independent

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