Tag Archive for ECB

Is that a foot in your mouth, or are you just glad to see me?

"What Michael REALLY meant was that everything is the fault of the poor and they only have themselves to blame...""

I love Irish politicians.

Just when I start to think that they might actually be capable of doing something intelligent, they invariably make a total mess of it.

But just as predictable is the faux outrage when they say or do something as remarkably tactless as Michael Noonan did today.

After over a year of austerity and and a general election it should be no surprise to people that he believes that emigration is a lifestyle choice.

He can’t afford to believe anything else.

Why else would he preside over slash-and-burn budgets and the wanton destruction of social services?

Why else would he introduce a finance act that will cost workers an inordinate amount with little hope of creating any jobs?

Why else would he keep tugging his metaphorical forelock as the IMF and the ECB told him how great we all are, that, in Brian Lenihan’s memorable fallacy “our plan is working”?

Their plan might be working, but much of Ireland isn’t, and the wave of emigration is testament to that.

I went on Pat Kenny’s Frontline program just before Christmas determined to give a positive view of the life of the emigrant – after almost 13 years abroad I can safely say it’s not a death sentence.

But all the while I was sitting in the TV studio with my collar buttoned up, I was aware of the enormous hurt and loneliness and pain that emigration causes, and there was no way in the world I would have said anything to try to lessen them.

Emigration is immensely painful for most people. If you don’t believe me, hang around an Irish airport some morning and see for yourself.

You’ll see fathers commuting off to God knows where in search of a week’s work.

You’ll see young people with packed bags and empty eyes heading off to places they know little about.

You’ll see the tired 40-year-olds who thought their travelling days were done, once again heading off with 10 kilos of hand luggage and the e-mail address of an old friend in Berlin.

You’ll see it in my inbox every week as people write looking for advice on jobs and apartments and childcare as they abandon any hope they might have had of raising their family in their own country.

What you won’t see is the likes of Noonan, a life of political privilege having inured him from the harsh realities he and his ilk regularly foist upon the nation.

It seems like a trivial thing, but maybe not.

Maybe this piece of sublime stupidity will be the straw that breaks the back of the Irish camel.

Despite the fact that we went into this government and its contemptuous policy of cuts and austerity with our eyes wide open, we might finally choose to exercise our democratic rights.

Maybe this insult will help people to find their voice, to get up out of their armchairs and say no more.

Or maybe we’ll just keep heading to the airport and leaving the likes of Noonan to do their best to sort it out. Here’s hoping he won’t have the chance.

At the very least, Noonan has to go and be replaced by Joan Burton. The sooner we force an end to this charade the better.

100 days, or more of the same?

Bang bang, we're all dead.

Usually, I wouldn’t get involved, and the reason is simple.

The hundreth day of this administration is no more interesting than the 101st, or the 79th, especially given the fact that the current government took the baton from the last government and just kept running the same race.

But here goes.

There have been no surprises. As expected, all that has happened is that this government has continued on where the previous one left off, generally giving the weakest in society a good kicking whilst not holding anyone to account through either incompetence or indifference.

Either way, it’s not positive, and it won’t bring this horrible situation to an end any time soon.

More cannot be expected of Enda Kenny; he is after all a career politician who continues to live by the maxim that you’re never as good as they say you are, but you’re never as bad either. No boats will be rocked with Enda at the helm.

Nor can more be expected of Labour, who as usual have parked their principles at the door in return for a taste of power.

The Micháel Martin charm(less) offensive hasn’t disappointed either; it would be interesting to see how he would rate his own record in office, given that he gives the current regime “three out of ten”. If he is honest, he and the rest of the party should call up Vincent Browne and ask for a loan of the shotgun and whiskey that Enda so churlishly declined.

Of course, the promises made by Kenny and the rest haven’t been fulfilled, nor had they ever any chance of coming to fruition. And the bailout renegotiations were the shortest in history.

Ireland: “Can we renegotiate the bailout?”

Europe: “No.”

Ireland: “Grand.”

All this was simply a continuation of the former government’s tried, tested and failed tactic of trying to hoodwink the markets. And it failed again.

If there was another election after 100 days, I reckon the turnout would be close to zero because Irish politics has finally reached its nadir. There is no difference between any of them any more.

But then again, maybe expectations are so low that people wouldn’t even bother punishing them anymore. And Michael Lowry would still get elected.

After all, this is Ireland, where the facts count for nothing. This is Ireland, where there is as much accountability after 100 days as there is after four years- none.

This is Ireland, where upon your death you can be declared the greatest patriot who ever lived, despite handing the keys of the country over to the IMF and the ECB.

Enda tells us that we have to do more with less, and he would do well to heed his own advice. There are entrepreneurs and ideas and schemes out there that are being stillborn, either because they can’t get credit or because the instigators don’t know which agencies can help them.

These are people who, having been robbed of their jobs, their equity and their pensions, are happy to take the risk and try to get themselves back in employment, but instead they get more of the same.

“We can’t lend to you”.

“That’s not our remit, it’s more for *insert state agency here*.”

“That’s great but we have no resources”.

I wrote to Enda recently with a few ideas, suggesting that he and his government focus a little more on engaging the diaspora - and not just in the US, the UK and Australia – in helping our country in her time of need. If I recall correctly, the last line I wrote was along the lines of “there are thousands of us overseas ready, willing and able to help. Put us to work for Ireland”.

Needless to say, I didn’t receive a reply. But let’s do it anyway.

Let’s take 100 days to do what this government could not or would not do.

Let’s take 100 days to preach the good word about our country, and tell the world that despite the preponderance of greedy sycophants at the top of the tree, there are still hard-working, smart people available.

Let’s tell them how beautiful our country is, and how much craic it is, and how great the food tastes. Tell them about Jedward and Dave Browne playing the guitar for 100 hours in Temple Bar, and how Dunphy and Giles are better than anything else in the world when it comes to football punditry.

Because after 100 days of more of the same, if we don’t do it, no-one else will.

Ireland’s image is damaged abroad, and we need to fix it before we can start doing business again. Our bond yields are evidence of that.

But if we do what we always did, we’ll continue to get what we always got.

And we deserve better than that.