One paragraph from yesterdays Observer’s Editorial should be memorised and remembered for a long time.
Much of that story is familiar from other countries caught out by the credit crunch. But Ireland’s unique misfortune is to have, in Brian Cowen’s Fianna Fáil government, leaders who shipwrecked the economy and then capsized the lifeboats. The initial crisis response in 2008 was designed in such a way as effectively to absorb the doomed banking sector into the state, with no safeguards for taxpayers. While fitting as a kind of poetic commentary on what had happened in the boom years, as policy it was insane. Every cent of tax revenue disappeared down a black hole of debt; a ballooning budget deficit demanded brutal austerity measures – public sector cuts, tax rises – which drained any remaining cash out of the economy and prolonged recession.