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In the black

•It is said the monks of Mount Athos monastery in Greece wear black habits to remind themselves daily of their own mortality -- but this was not what Juergen Stark had in mind when he urged Ireland to embrace greater austerity.

Mr Stark, who resigned from the board of the ECB citing "personal reasons" for his departure, heeded the dictum -- "if you don't like the heat get out of the kitchen" -- made popular by Harry Truman.

The advantage of such a course of action: immediate relief, plus the freedom to speak one's mind on matters of fiscal discipline. The downside is that no one really is inclined to take advice from quitters on "toughing it out" or ramping up the pain.

Perhaps Mr Stark would have been better off heeding the advice of a German existential philosopher, who said: "Was mir nicht umbringt, macht mir starker" -- 'what doesn't kill me makes me stronger'.

But it's too late for that. Knowing of Mr Stark's enthusiasm for all things austere, I'm sure the monks of Mount Athos have room for one more late vocation.

Michael Doheny
Viewmount, Waterford

Irish Independent