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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 20, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    Teutonic Knights on White Chargers Rescue Celtic Tigress

    Deaglán de Bréadún

    If Ireland finally goes hopelessly, completely broke, will somebody come the rescue and who will it be? An article in a leading international publication this week suggests that the Germans will be our saviours.

    Tony Barber writing in the Financial Times yesterday (19 March 2009) says that Germany’s finance minister Peer Steinbrueck and other politicians in that country “sometimes give the impression that Berlin is saving its ammunition for the battle that will really count – the rescue of a eurozone member state, such as Greece or Ireland, that may one day be unable to refinance its debt.

    “That Germany would pay the necessary price to prevent the 16-nation eurozone from breaking up is no longer in doubt. But any country that benefited from German-led assistance would have to pay a heavy price, too, in strict controls on public spending and external surveillance of economic polity.

    “The question is how a restive society, such as Greece, where riots have broken out in recent months, could be persuaded to swallow the medicine needed to keep it in the eurozone.”

    Food for thought there: Greece is not the only restive society, there is plenty of potential for street disorder in Ireland too, especially with the Northern conflict showing signs of coming back to life – or perhaps that should be death.

    A well-informed friend of mine suggested recently that the Germans would ride in on a white charger but the price would be abandonment of our low corporate tax rate. That doesn’t exactly make sense since it would affect employment levels here.

    But certainly there would be a price to pay. And would we be prepared to pay it? At least it would solve the riddle as to whether we’re closer to Boston than Berlin.

    • Paul says:

      According to Derek Scally writing in the IT recently, the Irish aren’t too revered by Germans in these times.

      According to former political scientist at Queens University and author of ‘How has Fianna Fail adapted to changes in Irish society since 1945?’ Thorsten Volberg, perception of the feckless Irish may not be as dire. In recent correspondence he had this to say:

      “But regarding the perspective on Ireland – at least from one German – I think that Ireland still has an exremely positive image among Germans. I cannot really say that Germans were perplexed by Ireland’s embracement of materialism as you call it, but rather impressed on how a country can actually develop and adjust its economy towards the necessities of the 21st century in such a short period of time – but perhaps I’m just not enough into this topic.

      From a German perspective part of this Irish success story has been combined with Ireland’s membership in the EU. Ireland’s “No” regarding the Lisbon treaty then has actually left a lot of Germans perplexed.”

      Will a second referendum become embroiled with Ireland’s financial dependency on Europe? Most likely. If this develops to be the case will FF milk that for all its creamy goodness? Certainly.

    • Deaglán says:

      Here is a Reuters report from today: A senior German lawmaker said eurozone states stood ready to come to the aid of financially fragile members of the currency bloc, sparking furious denials from European leaders that a specific rescue plan existed.
      Otto Bernhardt, a leading lawmaker in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday: “There is a plan.”
      He added: “The finance ministers have agreed the procedures. The core point is: ‘We won’t let anyone go bust.’”
      The prime ministers of Italy, Ireland and Greece said no plan had been agreed to bail out euro zone countries and German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck also said he could not confirm the veracity of Bernhardt’s remarks.
      Bernhardt later contacted Reuters to qualify the comments he gave in the interview.
      He said in the conversation on Friday that although politicians were obliged to formulate a broad plan of action, he knew of no blueprint to address a country in trouble now.
      “My main point stands: A euro country cannot go bankrupt, because the currency would collapse,” Bernhardt said.
      Apparently Bernhardt also made critical remarks about our low corporate tax rates here in Ireland.
      Deaglán comment: I hope this is not an illustration of Bismarck’s axiom: “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” (He was German, too.)

    • SEANEEN OG says:

      What a mess. Ireland will again go cap in hand to the EU taxpayers,have they, the Government, no shame? Ireland was handed a golden goose 15 yrs ago with a handbook on how to nurture. Instead the goose was flogged and flogged and renamed the Celtic Tiger. The rah-rah was deafening, the hubris, pretensions and smugness that came almost overnight as the EU money flowed was astonishing, a real eye-opener, as was the terrifying behaviour in traffic. It was a real peasant on horseback carry- on, clearly a little money went straight to the heads of so many. Now it’s no more, perhaps it’s for the better.

    • Deaglán says:

      My colleague Harry McGee has drawn my attention to the following article which will be interest in the context of the general economic discussion:

      http://www.economist.com/world/europe/displayStory.cfm?story_id=13331143&fsrc=nwlbtwfree


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