I SPENT much of the last week abroad. It was refreshing to be out of Ireland, and away from the negativity so prevalent here. Being overseas also presented an opportunity to hear the external viewpoint on Ireland's situation.
During the Celtic Tiger years, every man, woman and child in this country enjoyed the spoils to some extent. What were the consequences? People had more money in their pockets, and much of it was spent on lifestyle improvement or non-productive assets such as cars and property.
We bought landmark buildings in London, holiday villas in Spain, Portugal, Florida, Croatia, etc. We owned more BMWs per capita than Germany. In investments, people sought to make a killing rather than a living. We became a people who confused debt burdens for wealth. Now the bubble has burst. The tide has gone out and many people were left exposed and naked, seeking somebody to blame for their misfortune.
This denial is not going to end while the national media continues to broadcast and print, unchallenged, the daily doses of victimised rhetoric emanating from spokespersons from the various representative bodies seeking to maintain their members' cosseted positions.
If you were to accept the words of these people, nobody represented by the CPSU, IBOA, ICTU, SIPTU, etc, benefited from the boom and, therefore, the cost of the bubble bursting should be borne by somebody else.
Many of the Europeans I met questioned why they should give a concession on the bailout interest rate, given that much of the structural deficit faced by Ireland is due to high levels of current account expenditure on relatively high pay levels, pensions and social welfare rates.
This is the elephant in the room, and it needs to be tackled, and fast. I hope the soundbites from the new Government turn into action, rather than another Croke Park Agreement fiasco.
CASTLEKNOCK, DUBLIN 15