Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Ireland must learn from harsh lesson

Ireland’s massive bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund was inevitable, even though leading Irish politicians were claiming almost to the last day that this would not be required.

The political shadow-boxing is over, and the reality is inescapable. Ireland financially is in deep, deep trouble, and the details of the |bailout are still being finalised.

Whatever the final outcome, it is clear that the bailout is an extreme embarrassment to a nation and its people who are and have been extremely protective of their independence and |sovereignty since the formation of the state.

The assistance from Europe and the IMF is not the total disaster which some commentators have suggested. Ireland is not the first, and it will not be the last, country to avail itself of |outside help in times of dire financial necessity.

There is an extreme irony also that Britain, while not a member of the European monetary union, is prepared to provide help as well. This may be a matter of financial self-interest to help a struggling neighbour and major trading |partner, but in the light of such help the old |slogan of “Brits Out” takes on a different |perspective.

While few in Northern Ireland want to gloat about the misfortunes of neighbours across the border, the sad and inescapable truth is that in times of plenty, the Irish financial institutions, and many of the people, literally lost the run of themselves.

It is imperative, however, that the bailout from the EU and the IMF will allow Ireland some room for manoeuvre, particularly in the |retention of its lower rate of corporation tax.

A fair degree of financial pain lies ahead for the plain people of Ireland, and it is to be hoped that the harsh lessons of the mythical “Celtic Tiger” will be taken to heart. This financial |disaster across our border must not be allowed to happen again.

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