Following the yes vote in last week’s referendum, government ministers were cock-a-hoop on the prospect of having the Irish bank debt reduced by our European partners.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was insistent that "the bailout for the bust banks — more than €46bn — must now be included in wider efforts to kick-start the European economy".
Junior minister Brian Hayes subsequently clarified that figure to be the €34bn, gobbled up by that earlier darling of the chattering classes, Anglo Irish Bank.
In one way it was embarrassing to see our so-called leaders almost going cap in hand to their masters suggesting: "We were good boys, daddy, please do something nice for us now."
But I suppose the fact that Enda barely mentioned it at a meeting with his ministers on Monday last, as reported yesterday, says a lot about his real beliefs; so much for being a critical issue for his government.
In any event, it wasn’t as if the EU had made any commitments to us prior to the referendum that a yes vote would guarantee more favourable terms.
In fact, the opposite is true. Our so-called EU partners as much as said that for them it was business as usual whichever way the vote went.
True to form, we were told on Monday that Germany has cast doubt on any deal on bank debt, saying that it would be a "negative signal" to reopen Ireland’s bank rescue arrangements.
The German spokesman went on to say "we see no need for movement at the moment".
No doubt our boys will grab onto "at the moment" grateful that it was not an absolute NO.
Clearly, our national negotiators have a lot to answer for.
When we had the ability to bring the whole deck of cards down around Europe’s proverbial neck we blinked first and did not use that advantage and now we are little more than bit-players in the unfolding drama.
And, boy, are our neighbours and "benefactors" getting their own back for our transgressions over much the last decade.
Back then our economy was booming.
We were the poster boys not only of Europe but of the world.
And we can be sure that the permanent denizens of Government Buildings also played their part.
Everything was going swimmingly.
And we laid it on with a trowel.
When anybody questioned what was happening we denigrated them.
If we have the nerve to tell ourselves the truth we would agree that we had run ahead of ourselves. In fact, a lot of us had totally lost the run of ourselves.
Following our return to Earth, our government agreed, under pressure, to reimburse with interest professional financial gamblers, even if, under normal circumstances, they would quite rightly have taken a bath.
That’s the way with capitalism.
You win some, you lose some.
These are the rules of the game or at least they were.
We are surprised that those rules appear to have changed. But why are we surprised?
Have we not seen politicians who were paid while in office in an elected position and who decide to not contest the seat at the next election get "set aside" payments?
Have we not seen politicians who actually lost their seat at an election get paid "redundancy" from an elected temporary position?
It’s a win-win situation — it just keeps paying out.
Unfortunately, the good people of Ireland do not see it quite like that.
They continue to carry the brunt of the austerity measures. Unemployment remains in the mid-teens. Emigration of our best and brightest continues.
If the situation continues where we appear to be treated differently to others, such as Greece and soon, possibly, Spain, then we will quickly get over our love affair with the EU.
We’ve done well from it. But, lads, kicking us when we are down just ain’t cricket.
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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