The state of Ireland
Title: The state of Ireland
Author: MAIR, Peter
Citation: European political science, 2011, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 432-440
The conventional political wisdom in Ireland, shared by both government and opposition, is that it is only through austerity that the economy can be righted and the books eventually balanced. In other words, it is only through a programme that leaves the ordinary taxpayers, the tossers, footing the bill that the debts of the banks and the property developers can be paid. A failure to pay these debts would not only cause irrevocable damage to Irelands reputation, but would also have huge knock-on effects in the European economy as a whole. European banks the bondholders are owed an estimated US$500 billion by the Irish banks, including $140 billion owed to German banks, and $150 billion to UK banks. Should the Irish banks, or their current owners, the Irish state, default on this debt, or even seek to defer repayment, the costs to other European countries would therefore be enormous. Hence, the EU/IMF loan, and hence the encouraging noises from governments everywhere when the austerity programme was announced. Faced with the choice of taking over the debts of the banks and passing the bill on to its voters, or letting the banks fail and thereby, in effect, passing the bill on to the German and British bondholders, the Fianna Fail government decided that the voters should pay. Despite some arguments about the terms of repayment, and about how to manage austerity, the opposition Fine Gael and labour parties more or less agree.
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