Irish Diaspora speaks out on IMF bailout
Strong opinions on how to move forward
There is anger, but no despair, over Ireland's plight from Irish American business leaders.
The Irish Voice attended our sister publication Irish America magazine’s Business 100 luncheon on Tuesday, November 30 at the New York Yacht Club, and asked some of the honorees and guests for their take on the Irish financial crises and bailouts.
Honoree Denis P. Kelleher, founder and chairman of Wall Street Access, believes the EU bailout was probably in the best interests of the Irish people.
“Europe has to keep Europe together, everyone tied together by common currency. Ireland had to accept help from somewhere after all, ” said Kelleher.
Kelleher believes Ireland has lost credibility and sensibility, and that the damage will be dangerous and lasting.
“What happened has reinforced my thoughts that most politicians are disingenuous and they only care about being elected,” he added.
“The Irish government needs to accept some real pain, cut out the idiotic socialist spending, the excessive giveaways like the minimum wage, and tax breaks to institutions to promote development, which has led to ghost towns,” says Kelleher.
"The bankers were crooks, they gamed the system,” added Kelleher, a native of Co. Kerry.
“They got away with it far too long -- where was the oversight?”
Ireland can get back on its feet, he says, but they need honest institutions and an "end to all the nonsense" that brought the banks down. He called for real input from Irish America and a new attitude from back home.
“They need to get back to basics and do the right thing, which is to own up to their faults and apologize,” he says.
Ireland needs to play to its strengths, Kelleher believes. Those strengths include hospitality and the food industry.
“I’ve seen Ireland go from being a Third World country to being top of the heap, and now it’s on the way to being a Third World country again,” he adds.
Emmett O’Connell, Business 100 honoree, believes that the EU pushed Ireland into accepting a bailout package for reasons beyond the Emerald Isle.
“The bond holders in the banks got away with too much. The EU bailout amounts to countries like France, Germany and the U.K. saving their own banks because they lent to Ireland,” he said.
“The European Central Bank is making Ireland the fall guy. The French, German and U.K. banks were most exposed to Irish banks,” he says.
“The past 10 years in Ireland was a fool’s paradise.”
His recommendations to Ireland to get out of this mess? Simple.
“Leave the euro. Restore the Irish pound (punt). Devalue the punt against the euro.”
O’Connell has staunchly opposed Ireland’s part in the European Union. “For every one euro Ireland brings to the EU, they take five euro worth of fish from the Irish seas,” he explained.
Honoree Peggy Smyth, vice president at Hamilton Sundstrand, shared her views on the Ireland’s bailout from the EU, a decision she believes was not taken lightly.
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I agree the sole blame should not lie with the Catholic Church or the Irish Government of the time. However, NOTHING can excuse the blatant cruelty be