Friday 24 November 2017

Spirit of nation must be revived

WE have a Government that is neither brave nor bold. With few exceptions, the people who should make the major decisions on our behalf are far from being real leaders or pathfinders. The Taoiseach seems to take his orders from Brussels or Frankfurt, and he is happy to follow them.

This Government decided to ignore all the danger signs as the recession began and was surprised at each stage as it got worse. It decided to turn the huge debts of a relatively unimportant bank, which had little interaction with the community, into a crippling sovereign liability. It decided to negotiate a deal with the public sector unions that hog-tied the ability to use all avenues necessary for cutting the budget deficit. It agreed with Brussels to a four-year budgetary strategy which, together with the other decisions taken, does not allow for necessary stimulus or growth. And last week it agreed to a permanent European bailout package.

The latter, in itself, is not a bad thing, but the idea comes from Angela Merkel and is supported by Nicolas Sarkozy. The problem here is that Angela Merkel and the German people have a few conditions before they are willing to become the main guarantors of such a fund. These include extremely onerous penalties for any member state that might default on the rules that insist the budget deficit must remain below three per cent of GDP. Among the penalties are heavy fines -- at this stage the least of our worries. Even a sovereign state can get to the stage when another bill is just another bill. But the German people also want to withdraw European voting rights from any defaulting states.

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