Only in Ireland…….! Part 3: The Economy

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

22 January 2012

We said in our Mission Statement that Antigone1984 would be prepared at times to chill out and loosen up. This is the third part of a daily multi-part series of reports from Ireland taken from a single edition of the Irish Independent newspaper, that of 20 January 2012.

We hope that our Irish readers do not take offence. For one thing, the articles in question have already been published for all the world to see in one of Ireland’s two main daily newspapers. For another, we ourselves at Antigone1984 have Irish as one of our nationalities: we are surely entitled, from time to time, to have a laugh at ourselves. Finally, it is not our intention to suggest that these news reports typify the Irish national character. We keep an open mind on that question.


Extracts from a report by Thomas Molloy

It was “Alice in Wonderland” once again at the Department of Finance yesterday as the Government congratulated itself for meeting all the targets set by the bailout partners while admitting that many of those targets have not actually been met.

[The bailout partners are the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund]

If only the nation’s children could get away with the same strategy and tell their teachers that they had done all their homework except the things they hadn’t done.

Whether [Finance Minister] Michael Noonan tolerated such excuses when he was a teacher back in the 1970s is not known, but expressions of disbelief from reporters met with a tart response from his colleague Brendan Howlin [Minister for Public Spending and Reform] who effectively replied that the IMF and the European Commission have approved our progress and that is all that matters.

To be fair, Mr Howlin has a point. It is good news for this country that the troika has ended the fifth inspection with the now routine thumbs-up…Still, it would be foolish to take yesterday’s bland conclusions at face value….The reality is that IMF and ECB officials cut their growth forecasts for this year in half and warned of very difficult times ahead. This is troika-speak for another year of hell.

Behind the scenes, the troika is growing impatient with governmental foot dragging.

The Government’s insistence on using some of the proceeds from the sale of state assets to fund a jobs-creation programme that the troika believes to be a gimmick is one source of tension.

The Government’s focus on financial targets and seeming indifference to structural reform is another…. 

Mr Noonan and Mr Howlin have got away with delays on issues such as reforming job-activation programmes, the personal insolvency laws, what to do with the Permanent TSB [Trustee Savings Bank] and bank stress tests but there are signs patience is wearing thin…..

Yesterday, everything went smoothly at the latest parent-teacher meeting, but back in the staffroom everybody is feeling restive while the board of governors must be going insane.


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