Meet the new government of Ireland

November 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

Meet the new government of Ireland

18 November 2010
The only thing sovereign in Ireland right now is the contempt which the government holds for its own people, denying point blank that an EU/IMF bailout for the national economic car crash is imminent. So first off I would like to offer profuse thanks and curtsies to Simeon Djankov, deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, for finally calling a spade a spud when he blurted, “I expect a bailout decision to be taken within a week.” This was before a gathering of journos in Brussels, none of whom reported afterwards that my man Simeon burst into a fit of giggles, with his eyes crossed, and tongue stuck out. So perhaps I would not be naïve in assuming Simeon is telling the truth, and that Taoiseach Brian Cowen, as well as French finance minister Christine Lagarde, have been telling the reverse of that.

This means also that the “team” consisting of experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that landed in Dublin today can now be called the de facto government of the Irish Republic, with powers to oversee Ireland’s mad austerity and budget plans. In a depressingly limpid turn of phrase from the delightful people over at the EUobserver, said team will “maintain a degree of authority over the elected government of Ireland.”

Seeing as they now hold a degree of authority over the government of Ireland, it would only be normal, think you, that we get acquainted. You know, whether they got their Leaving Cert, favourite cheese, star signs. However, according to deliciously named EU spokesman Amadeu Tardio, “These people do not do press conferences. They do not need to speak to the press.” Amadeu’s thoughts have been echoed as if from one and the same brain by an ECB spokespeep – “These people do not need to have a public profile… People do not need to know who these inspectors are,” she outputted.

So essentially, this new non-elected de facto government of the Irish Republic is also a secret one. And if a secret government in a democratic society is not strange enough, then what about Amadeu’s declaration that he doesn’t know how many they are. “There will be more than two but fewer than 10 people going,” he said.

I would like to offer some serious advice to Amadeu, which he could then pass onto “team”. Given that the supervisors will not be suffering themselves from any austerity budgets – this is not Commish, ECB or IMF practice – as they oversee the next round of €15 billion cuts in the next four years (proportionally over twice the size of slasher Osborne’s UK cuts), they should all go out for a nice meal now and then in that lovely restaurant called L’Ecrivain on Baggot Street. But careful!, Amadeu, if the lads have a hankering for a starter of Jerusalem Artichoke Rissotto followed by a Wild Wicklow Venison with a caramelised pear for only €59 a pop, I’d be worried about the reservation.

“Good afternoon, L’Ecrivain restaurant?”

“Hallo, I’d like to make a reservation for dinner.”

“For how many people?”

“There will be more than two but fewer than 10 people going.”

“Excuse me?”

“I said a table for more than two but fewer than ten.”

“I’m afraid I can’t make a reservation for that.”

(Muttering in the background)

“Ok, aha, well, let’s say a table for, eh, 10, but nothing could be further than certain.”

“Can I have a name, please?”

“People do not need to know who they are.”

“Sorry?”

“These people do not need to have a public profile.”

You would surely agree, Signore Tardio, that while in the public affairs of a nation it’s apparently no longer necessary to say who you are and how many you will be, this kind of carry-on won’t get you a table at L’Ecrivain.

ECB, the bank that looks after its own

July 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

A lovely little bit of news comes from the Financial Times today. The European Central Bank, champions of fiscal austerity across a continent, has been giving Romania an earful for hitting employees of the country’s central bank with a 25% pay cut. “In a strongly-worded statement,” the FT writes, “the ECB on Monday warned that Romania’s actions violated European Union treaties allowing monetary authorities to operate freely and without political interference.”

Let’s remember that this May Bucharest went on a public service slasher that would have had austerity zealots thrumming exquisitely at such innovations in fiscal pain. But while the ECB has absolutely nothing to say on the impoverishment of teachers and nurses, etc, its lower lips trembles when the budget machetes come down on colleagues. As the FT respectfully points out, the “ECB’s stance could trigger criticism that it sees central bankers as exempt from public spending cuts.” Less respectfully you could argue that the ECB’s attitude is entirely consistent with a union that preaches the bonkers economics of austerity while keeping its own institutions austerity free. As a quiet, ineluctable brazilification of a continent takes hold like so much CO2, you simply must look after your own.

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