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Letters from Ireland II

Irland steckt in einer tiefen Krise. Nicht nur wirtschaftlich geht es bergab, auch politisch steht das Land an der Abbruchkante. Der seit vielen Jahren in Nordrhein-Westfalen lebende Ire Hugh Murphy reist in seine Heimat zurück und schreibt über das, was er sieht. Hier ist der zweite Brief unseres Gastautors.

„Hello,

it’s the smells that first get to you when you land in Ireland in the last months of the year. There is a sweet sour smell everywhere. It’s the autumn decay now fermenting and the compost promises to be dire for the Irish economy. €509 billion were lent to Ireland and it’s banks during the last few years and the Irish mind runs into a blank wall in the attempt to visualise what that albatross means for them. Many people have stopped thinking about it and even the talking heads on TV have turned to playing Christmas toys and the rugby season.

Although Olli Rehn, the European commissioner, has become a semi respected figure in the media few see any sense in what he, the ECB and finance minister Lenihan are up to. There is even amused confusion about who exactly is representing Ireland in the negotiations. Reliable sources say that Mr Lehihan is suffering from terminal cancer. It seems to increase his creditability as an honest broker but the other negotiators are shadowy civil servants, just the kind whose negligence and/or complicity created the mess in the first place. Nobody trusts them.

The pundits/experts have now decided that the European (German), English and Irish banks have been in a cahoots relationship for years, always relying on the Irish Government to guarantee investments if things went wrong, the old ‚too important to let fail‘ trick, i.e. private debt would become sovereign debt. In 2008 that is exactly what Prime Minister Cowan, and Lenihan did when the Anglo-Irish Bank got into trouble.

If you listen to people waiting at red traffic lights in O’Connell Street in Dublin you’ll hardly hear a word about the economic crisis. „Sure, with all this doom and gloom I’m going to put up the Christmas tree early this year,“ said a young woman with a child on one hand and a bag of shopping in the other. „I agree with you misses. Why should we start throwing the toys out of the pram already.“ This from another woman, shopping heavy. „What pram?“, ask another voice and the hole group laughed and chuckled there way across the street one green.

Few protest anymore around parliament in Kildare St. Camara crews are asleep on the front seats of their vans tucked discreetly into side streets. The unions can get a few thousands out at the weekend for a photo shot but Sinn Fein and other extremists are so prominent among the marchers that ‚ordinary‘ people refuse to join, up to now.

The terms of the agreement are due out today or tomorrow. I’ll have more news then, Hugh Murphy“

Letters from Ireland I

Letters from Ireland II

Letters from Ireland III

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