I’m in Dublin again – was here in December 2010 just as the effect of Ireland’s bank bailout had forced Ireland to be bailed out by the EU and the IMF. And the UK, which has staunchly refused to be drawn into the eurozone debacle, did add to the bailout package.
An organisation, Claiming Our Future, is organising an event tomorrow, on “Reinventing Our Democracy” – as the title says, to discuss these issues and the way forward for Ireland. The same attempts have been going on Iceland, in particular related to writing a new constitution, a process that’s still not finished.
The spirit here seems rather bleak. Not much optimism, as often is when unemployment is high – 14% here at the moment – and not much change in sight. This is a country where privately held debt – accumulated by bad banking and unsound speculation – was allowed to migrate over to the public sector.
But how about writing down this debt? The leading political parties aren’t too keen on it. Isn’t that just for countries who in reality are bankrupt? For countries in a really horrid situation like Greece?
Maybe – but why look at it so negatively? Is Ireland safe and sound over the worst? No, I don’t think so. There are rumours of a second unavoidable bailout looming. The pain has increased when the unsustainable situation isn’t solved but only mended. Then things drag on, the situation again gets unsustainable and yet another bailout is negotiated. It is very costly not to solve the real problems.
Greece has already restructured its private debt. Why shouldn’t Ireland consider doing the same?
*Last night, I was on a panel at a political chat show here, Tonight with Vincent Browne. You can watch it here – in the first bit the focus is on Iceland and Ireland. Then the discussion moved to EU.
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