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.”


“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.


Europhrenia – Whatever people say Greeks are, that’s what they’re not

April 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

The BBC reports that only a few days after Athens was full-nelsoned into appealing for a €40bn-€45bn rescue package from the EU and the IMF… Greek bond yields are just a wee touch below last week’s whopping 9.15%. “The interest rate is 6.14 percentage points higher than that charged to Germany – seen as the safest investment in Europe,” the website chirps, explaining that even with Greece due a bung, investors are still “nervous”.

“Nervous” is an unusual term to denote that hard-nosed community of the tactically-minded who over the past few months like US drone operators have hovered over the nation’s economy, already a puny 0.3% of the EU’s, and reduced it to a smoking pair of old boots. But before we cry into our ouzos, they had it coming, the cheeky beggars. “The fundamental causes of this mess lie in Greece itself… Greeks really need to take a hard look at themselves and the way they have behaved”. So wrote Tony Barber in his Financial Times blog of 23 April, spinning the castastrophe as a kind of mid-life crack up. Come on, Iannis, you know it’s true!

Rolled out relentlessly, the view that the failings of successive Greek governments are actually the personal failings of the Greek people, is rife. And if swallowed will doubtlessly smooth the way for the next couple of decades of scrotum-tightening austerity that that country can look forward to under the lorgnettes of a German-led EU, IMF experts, and rating agencies. But if you think about it, to say that the corrupt Greeks are personally responsible for their country’s disaster sounds a lot like the Victorian prejudice that poverty amongst the lower orders was down to loose morals.

A similar narrative of “we are all in this together” and “we get the leaders we deserve” has allowed the Irish government to crash the country into a wall and then present it with the bill. But we should be wiser. One day after the death of the great Alan Sillitoe, author of The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, we should remember one of his best lines – “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not“. When officialdom pronounces over the “Greeks” as irresponsible and reckless we should be as alert to the presumption as when investors are seen as so many shivering calves.

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