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Sunday, 27 March 2011

Feckless State On Brink Of Default...

The ordinary citizens of this State would be well entitled to ask if there is some point in the near future when we will stop being burnt by the great ongoing bonfire of the vanities of our former Celtic Tiger masters.

They would be right, for such now is our 'state of chassis' that the Moriarty Tribunal ceased to be the central issue of public discourse after little more than two days. But when it comes to issues of survival, ethics will always come second to economics.

Yet ethics is not unimportant either, for the issues Justice Moriarty dealt with cut to the heart of the colossal political failure of the first Irish Republic. Once again, another tribunal has revealed that we as a State are utterly incapable of governing or policing ourselves.

And unfortunately this failure even extends to a tribunal which after 14 years of investigation has only provided us with the prologue to the resolution of the controversy about the mobile phone licence.

The outside world, on whose charity we are now shamefully dependent, could not be blamed for looking with utter contempt at our feckless ability to get ourselves into the most squalid of messes and our equally consistent inability to resolve it. And when it comes to the failed social experiment of Irish Home Rule, they could hardly be criticised either for wondering if it is right or wise to continue to subsidise a polity which is so politically, morally, and fiscally incontinent.

The consequences of the latter trait were cruelly evident last week, for the vast carelessness of the recent FF/PD coalitions means that Ireland is part of a little herd of states lingering on the window ledge of the EU. This is not good news, for in the chilling words of one EU diplomat, when it comes to the bond market "Ireland, Greece and Portugal are on their own".

Last week, one of our many masters, Jean-Claude Trichet, almost sounded like President Barack Obama as he claimed that when it came to solving our fiscal and banking crisis "Ireland can do it". But the mailed fist that was lurking behind the velvet rhetoric swiftly followed as Mr Trichet claimed "Ireland will do it". In truth the sentiments of Mr Trichet suggested Ireland does not have much of a choice, but the increasing interest rate for Irish long-term bonds suggests the market certainly doesn't think we will.

As we tip ever closer towards the great unknown of a sovereign default, it is now evident that the ongoing crisis in our banks is a dead hand which stymies and enervates any sense of purpose or confidence within the country. Ireland is now in the worst place it has been since Independence. On one side the cheerleaders of austerity can only promise us blood, sweat, tears and ultimate defeat. Meanwhile, those academics who urge us to default are like the man sending a canary into a smoking coalmine, for unilateral default is the child of the sort of soft thinking that has got us to where we are today. Ireland is not Russia . . . or even Argentina.

Before we start shaking our fists at Germany or shouting that Europe must help us, we should realise it would of course be better if Europe was to help us -- but they do not have to do so. And they will only give us a hand up if we begin to help ourselves.

In that regard one modest proposal might consist of the immediate abolition of privilege days where the civil servants of a Republic continue to celebrate the birthday of the King of England.


Report - Sunday Independent

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