THE IRISH DAILY STAR took a headline from an Irish blogger when describing the outrage sweeping across Ireland following the announcement that two former bank bosses have cost the Irish taxpayer 25 billion euro between them. Former Anglo Irish chief Sean Fitzpatrick and Irish Nationwide boss Michael Fingleton were in charge when the Irish banking system imploded. At the height of the Irish property boom, they funded many developers on the back of personal signatures and since those signatures don't translate into real assets, the Irish Finance Minister is shoveling EUR 25bn of tax revenue into these bad banks to plug a gigantic black hole. The sheer amount of money is unfathomable--and well above any order of magnitude the Irish government has earmarked for significant investment in building the country. Instead, every citizen now carries double the amount of national debt than existed a few months ago. When my daughter approaches the end of her college days, I won't be surprised if she moves away to a place where they invest in the future. In my mind, the current whirlwind of financial dealings have little hope of returning a payback for the citizens. Instead, with a higher national debt, Ireland will have to cut back on more services and that means further threats to local hospitals, cuts in social programmes, and reduced spending for essential infrastructure. All of this is happening without a national vote on the leadership.
[Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for the Limerick Institute of Technology.]