It hurts to be disappointed, or worse, lied to. There is nothing worse than the feeling of waking up one day and realizing that everything you believed to be true was absolute malarkey.
Back in 2006, when I was still in journalism school, my classmate and I came to Ireland during our Christmas vacation to shoot a documentary in which we explored American immigration reform issues and Ireland’s then-booming economy.
We talked to an economist from the Economic and Social Research Institute, as well as to the CEO of a small investment firm, and a researcher from the Central Statistics Office. All of them offered the same caveat about the Irish economy: things are good now, but the level of growth is not sustainable, so it is up to political leaders and financial regulators to tread carefully, so that Ireland will experience a gradual decline, rather than a sudden bottoming-out.
If two student-journalists were privy to this information, I am sure that the people in the highest eschelons of the government had this, and much more information at their disposal.
So what were they thinking? Or more importantly, what were they doing?
Why did they ignore these warnings? Because they were too busy enjoying the spoils of the good times? Or, did they know that, no matter what, they, and their financial assets, would always be preserved? Were they cooking up ways to protect their own financial assets, and those of their buddies, in case of an economic meltdown?
The government says that it’s the banks’ fault for Ireland’s financial crisis, while the banks say it’s the government’s fault for guaranteeing all of their faulty loans.
We have heard dozens of speeches about who is or isn’t to blame, but what good are these excuses to the mothers and fathers in Ireland who now have to feed their children on chicken from a can or chop moldy bits off the bread to make it last?
Excuses are meaningless when it comes down to it, because the damage has already been done.
I doubt that many Irish people will express remorse if there is another confidence vote and Prime Minister Cowen does not win by a hair this time.
He and his ministers had their chance, he did wrong by his people, and if you ask me, I’d say his future is a little like the Bob Dylan lyric: “it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.”
When mistakes of this magnitude are made, a total and utter cleansing needs to take place.
After George W. Bush, the citizens of the United States came together to elect a one-term Senator named Barack Obama as President. Perhaps we were desperate to elect someone who seemed like an honest man.
We hoped he’d bring back the dignity that we’d lost when we heard the truth about extraordinary rendition, torture in US military prisons, and Iraqi WMDs that didn’t actually exist.
Although he’s still struggling to bring about all of the changes he promised us, we can at least find comfort in our belief that he’s a clean politician, and a leader we can trust.
That’s exactly what Ireland needs now: an absolute fresh start.
I have little faith that the people who, at the very least, stood idly by, and watched as this crisis happened in the first place, will be competent enough to fix the problem.
It would be a sign of a new beginning if the Prime Minster and the banks that receive the EU funds openly consult experts within the banks as well as outsiders with relevant knowledge, to discern how best to use the money to bring about change for those who need it most: the Irish people. All anyone is hoping for is opportunity to grow once more in the Emerald Isle.
Photo by: Aoife Challis