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Ireland: the "Second Republic"?

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Paul Mason | 00:36 UK time, Tuesday, 23 November 2010

France has had five - republics, I mean. But a man wandered up to me on Merrion Street tonight and announced to me: "this is the start of Ireland's Second Republic - as fundamental a transition as between British rule and independence".

My own personal rule in journalism is: if the same astonishing proposition comes up twice in a bar-room conversation within a few days, start thinking about reporting on it. So it is with Ireland's "Second Republic" because it has already, indeed, come up in casual conversations today, and more than once.

The essential proposition is: the IMF/EC bailout is such a profound indictment of Ireland's political class that "the whole thing will have to go". The whole system of patronage that urban/modern Irish people were slightly embarrassed about during the boom but which seemed harmless/tolerable.

The people pushing the Second Republic idea are uniformly involved in the digital economy, international in view, young, modern. I've met a property guy, an IT company guy and a blogger who all spontaneously talked to me about the Second Republic.

On the internet I've managed to trace it back to this article, and this bulletin board discussion - but it may be older, so feel free to update me in the comments as to its origin.

UPDATE 23/11/10: I've found a bulletin board set up on 18 November called That seems to be where the discussion started during this phase of the crisis.

CONTINUES: However the limits to the French parallel are this: there was only one peaceful transition from republique to republique - in 1958, and it was not pretty. The others were as a result of republican government being reborn after a period of monarchism (1830, 1848, 1870) or fascism (1944).

I get the drift though. I have spent the past 24 hours listening to Irish people saying they just don't trust the political class or the political system, and they would prefer the IMF because "at least you don't have to vote for them": they usually have no overwhelming social issue, apart from the obvious austerity which many see as inevitable - there is instead a political disillusionment, a disillusionment with institutional arrangements which I can report extends also to the media.

Please pile into the comments and let me know what you think.


  • Comment number 1.

    "they would prefer the IMF because at least you don't have to vote for them"

    Oh my God, please don't tell me that the Irish have Stockholm syndrome!

    I guess the IMF getting involved could go one of two ways. David McWilliams sums it up perfectly:

    "If the IMF/EU simply follow the course of action that the present shambolic government is pursuing, we are doomed. That policy of paying every creditor in full is flawed and will lead to a further crisis down the road.

    The only way out of this banking mess is to have a bank resolution or law passed which turns the existing creditors of the banks into shareholders, whether they like it or not. At a stroke, the huge debts of banks disappear and are borne by the creditors – which they should be – and we start again.

    The Irish taxpayer is no longer on the hook and we do what the US did in the savings and loans debacle in the early 1990s: we apply a market solution to a market problem. This will not be pretty, but it will work."

  • Comment number 2.

    This blog loses all credibility when you include 'property guy' anywhere within it.

    Property guys are a big reason why Eire is in the mess it is now.

    This is akin to wandering around Paris in the 1780s, side-stepping the starving, and reporting on bumping into a shapely lady with an Austrian accent who has grandiose plans for a cake franchise through France.

  • Comment number 3.


    Just as Britain's ubiquitous substance-dependency, is down to the infantile misery of the people - only correctible through a cultural shift - so Britain's governance distils to the top of 'the column', the most damaging 'elements'.

    We need a revolution of awareness and attitude; a new National Philosophy. A new republic?

    We have to start somewhere; SPOILPARTYGAMES.

  • Comment number 4.

    #2 tawse57

    Did you see the piece on Newsnight last night? The "property guy" pretty much confessed to being in cahoots with the Irish Government in stoking up the boom in the first place. A confession in the hand is worth a multitude of unrepentant Anglo-Saxon draft-dodgers.

    We need market solutions to market problems. Rather than the current fiasco of Capitalism on the way up, and asymmetric socialism on the way down.

    Addendum to #1 Full link to DW article referenced above:

  • Comment number 5.

    Well, third time lucky then, as they say.

  • Comment number 6.

    'My own personal rule in journalism is: if the same astonishing proposition comes up twice in a bar-room conversation within a few days, start thinking about reporting on it.

    Of course, in many cases, one might hope that is the start of the journalistic process (confirmation, substantiation, attribution, etc), as opposed to the end point.

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 Hawkeye_Pierce

    I did watch NN last night but did not see the property guy - I think was obsessing on Paul's umbrella and the bald patch appearing on the back of Paxman's head.

    Alas, such things come to most men eventually - I came close to buying an umbrella myself this week.

    I will have to dig up last night's programme on iplayer and have another watch.

    I thought it was interesting what Wil Hutton started to say about UK house prices... but he appeared to trip over himself before his brain got the words out and it was lost.

  • Comment number 8.

    Oh look, guess who now is the biggest holder of US debt on the planet? No, not China - it is Ben 'I only have one idea' Bernanke.

    Usually, other countries hold your debt in the shape of bonds as this shows what confidence they have in your economy. When you own your own debt surely that means...

    'The Beginning Of The Ponzi End: As Of Today, The Biggest Holder Of US Debt Is Ben Bernanke'

    Sssh, perhaps no one will notice.

  • Comment number 9.

    Paul Krugman blog: October 25, 2010, 3:34 am Fiscal Obsessions
    "Wolfgang Munchau marvels at the European obsession with a revived and strengthened stability pact — that is, with tougher constraints on budget deficits.
    'The real irony is that the pact, in whatever form, is not even relevant to the eurozone’s future. This may be a shocking statement. But look at the evidence. Contrary to popular narrative, fiscal profligacy played only a minor role in the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis.
    As for Spain and Ireland, they did not breach the rules ever, and would thus never have been subject to sanctions, automatic or otherwise.'
    What Munchau doesn’t say, but I suspect he understands, is that this is in large part an extension of the case of the boy with a hammer, for whom everything is a nail. Bankers and economists love, just love, being fiscal scolds; deficits are something they understand, plus denouncing deficits is an easy way to sound all moral and responsible. Rather than facing up to the complexities of our current problems — how do you get out of a liquidity trap? how do you rein in shadow banking? — many Very Serious People would much rather lecture governments on the evils of red ink."

  • Comment number 10.

    Morning Paul,

    the first link does not work, it appears to point to a piece in the Irish Times archive that is now behind some kind of subscription wall. The piece referred to is by Economist and author Michael O'Sullivan.

    Here is another article from 23rd Oct in which Mr. O'Sullivan broaches the same subject.

    'The people pushing the Second Republic idea are uniformly involved in the digital economy, international in view, young, modern. I've met a property guy, an IT company guy and a blogger who all spontaneously talked to me about the Second Republic.'

    Ah, the blind optimism and faith of the young whose ambitions so far have coincided with those of the powers that be, soon to be dashed as they come face to face with the intransigence of the vested interests when they try to change the status quo.

    It's a nice idea though, shame it will stay that way.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think it matters if it's the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth Republic, Ireland will still be ruled by the same cronies. It'll just be a case of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss'. Not that I'm cynical or anything!

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 tawse57

    Yes, Hutton fluffed numerous open goals last night. He had the chance to deal a couple of killer blows but stumbled under the studio glare.

    Maybe it was Stelzer's Obi Wan esque glower, piercing his thoughts with "these are not the frauds you are looking for...."?

  • Comment number 13.

    Talk of a new republic is an admission the government is not willing or able to control the actions of the people or corporations when most believe they are doing well during the inflation of a bubble. This is not only applicable in Ireland.

    When individuals and companies reatlise they are in trouble they expect the government to help them out.

    It turns out the guarantees for the deposits of individuals in the banks cannot be paid by the governments if called on to do so.

    The effect of the guaranteed limit per person per institution is for those with savings to split their deposits over as many as banks as necessary to 'guarantee' their position.

    Assuming the government guarantee is not enforceable, it may make more sense to pick a few of the stronger banks to hold the deposits.

    A withdrawal of deposits from the Irish banks by corporations and wealthy individuals seems to precipitated the crisis in Dublin and led to problems for the ECB. Where were these deposits transferred to?

    The conspiracy theorists must be beside themselves with excitement. Eric Cantona promoting a run on the banks; false flag operations in Korea to weaken eastern markets and a four day bank holiday in April/May for a reorganisation of the UK banking system.

    In reality, as the support mechanism for Ireland had been underway for weeks, we can hope there are plans for a fundamental reform of the financial system in progress. Both the financial and political systems are based on trust.

  • Comment number 14.

    #8 tawse57

    In the USA case Gvt debt is directly proportional to aggregate balance of payment deficits. (Peter Warburton / Michael Hudson describe this macro economic recycling process).

    So if you print your own money to fund your trade deficit, I give your economy a life expectancy of no more than 3-5 years.

    But don't worry, we're all in it together as our Gvt probably has Irwin "Obe Wan" Stelzer on the case with his sage like advice of "use the printing press, Luke!"

  • Comment number 15.

    I followed the link to the notice board.

    All you have to do is replace the word 'construction' with 'financial services' and it could equally apply to the UK.

    ''The extent of the stench from Irish politics is now reverberating across Europe and the world. A mediocre political class and a compliant media along with the construction lobby who really run the country have hijacked the vision of the founding fathers of the nation.....

    ''Ireland needs a Conference convened to draft a new Constitution, with the maintenance of real democratic standards at its core. ''

    Non of this is new, but I am afraid we will have to wait for a crisis of our own before any such view comes to the fore here.

  • Comment number 16.


    Who needs conspiracy theorists when world super powers can be the biggest owners of thier own debt (#8).

    I wish I could do that, would save an awful lot of messing around with bankers and lawyers when buying a house, just lend the money to yourself...genius!

  • Comment number 17.

    Krugman blog June 13 2010: "For the most part, this debate has been between those like me and Brad DeLong, who assert that budget-cutting should be postponed until we’re no longer in a liquidity trap, and those who insist that we must cut immediately, even though it would inflict economic damage and do little to improve the long-run budget position, because immediate cuts are necessary to achieve credibility with the markets.
    My response, and Brad’s, has been to say that right now there’s no hint in the data that the United States (or the UK) has a problem with the markets, and to question why the deficit hawks are so sure about what the market will want in the future, even though it doesn’t want it now.
    But I suddenly realized this morning that there’s yet another question for the deficit hawks: what evidence do you have that fiscal austerity of the kind you’re demanding would reassure markets, even if they did lose confidence?
    Consider, if you will, the comparative cases of Ireland and Spain.
    Both countries appeared, on the surface, to be fiscally responsible until the crisis hit, with balanced budgets and relatively low debt. Both discovered that this was an illusion: revenues were buoyed by immense real estate bubbles, and when the bubbles burst they plunged into deficit — and found themselves potentially on the hook for large bank losses.
    The countries responded differently, however. Ireland quickly embraced harsh austerity; Spain has had to be dragged into austerity, and still faces major political unrest...So, I’m glad to hear that Ireland’s stoic acceptance of austerity is reassuring markets; it must be true, because that’s what everyone says. Because if I didn’t know that, I might look at the data and conclude that markets actually have less confidence in Ireland than they do in Spain, and that austerity in the face of a deeply depressed economy doesn’t actually reassure markets at all.
    But hey, what are you going to believe: what everyone knows, or your own lying eyes?"

  • Comment number 18.

    Sorry for the blizzard of posts, but as a slight aside I was delighted the other day to be invited to meet one of the dept heads in NEF in my home town.

    It seems they are looking to bring like minded people together in the regions using the mechanism of their donations list. Great idea that, as I pointed out to them, the UK's intellectual 'bubble' resides in London, but if you want to get something to shift fundamentally in this nation the heart and the limbs that do the actual heavy lifting have always resided in the regions.

    I hope that is what they are trying to do and that it may contriburte in some way to getting some form of alternative UK constitution of our own off the ground.

    That is assuming people will be given a chance to do that before some nutter starts a major conflict or something....

  • Comment number 19.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the fundamental problem Ireland faces is that no-one believes their economy can grow by enough (if at all) to generate the income to pay off their debts. As people have aboserved these are banks debts (only becoming sovereign debts thanks to the guarantee offered by the Government in 2008). Since the earlier growth was based on a property bubble (ever more debt fueling ever increasing property prices, fuekling ever more debt)and since that bubble has now burst, where is the growth to come from?

    Without it, borrowing more money to pay of current debts is a hiding to nothing.

    Meanwhile, on a related point: I recall some bloggers (and Stephanie Flanders) were saying that UK tax receipt were exceeding expectations before the Summer (presumably quoting unattributable Treasury sources trying to "accentuate the positive". These quotes have dried up lately - so can we assume that UK receipts are no longer doing as well as people had hoped.

    Equally, people are beginning to suggest that the spending cuts may not be as effective as had been hoped. A pretty damning indictment, since the "cuts" were in fact an annual increase in spending of c.2% in cash terms.

    Can someone please update us as to the current "income" versus "outgoings" for the UK and what this could mean for the deficit in years to come?

    I know that this "Micawber economics" (income 20s outgoings 20s & 6d misery) is frowned upon in learned circles - but it seems to me to be more credible that the other famous Micawber quote - that the Government and the BoE seems to be employing.

    "Something will turn up!"

  • Comment number 20.

    Will has so much to say...and then forgets to say happens to me quite often so I usually hide in a remote room, the property guy made you want to go back to Madame Guillotine..just for him. In Paul's thoughtful piece one thing came over loud and clear, what about the poor Irishman and women in all this, what say did they have in all this mayhem? It's no use castigating them along with the greedy bankers saying 'we were all guilty' the simple truth is that GOVERNMENTS decide fiscal policy not the guy in the pub. If the peramaturs and rules are so lax as to be hardly visible then it is a free for all dressed up as a 'light touch' something Darling and Osborne know only to well. This mayhem although has the bankers fingerprints all over it was also let through with very little attention by governments...and not the poor bloody infantry....

  • Comment number 21.


    "A confession in the hand is worth a multitude of unrepentant Anglo-Saxon draft-dodgers." I have no idea what that means, but it works for me!
    And all sorts of other delightfully expressive offerings by a range of names.

    Carry on posting.

  • Comment number 22.


    If the UK, US and Japan central banks own 200bn, 2 trn, etc of their own debt when everyone agrees the bond holders need to take a hair cut they will cancel out what they owe to themselves.

    If there are hostilities, any amounts due to the enemy can be witheld.

    In the game of pass the parcel with the risk of individual and corporate debt passed from shareholder to private bond holder to government where does it end?

  • Comment number 23.

    @15 Jericoa "..I am afraid we will have to wait for a crisis of our own.."

    ANOTHER crisis, I presume you mean? The Irish situation might well precipitate one.

    Several sources, including the NEF, have been warning that UK banks may well need another bailout in 2011:

    As many have suggested, the proposed £7billion loan to Ireland may have been a backdoor first installment.

    However, if the government in Ireland collapses - and defaults - then our crisis comes closer. But Osbo will be able to blame the Irish instead of his friends in the banking sector. (I was going to use the word "community" instead of sector, but my keyboard rebelled!)

  • Comment number 24.

    As happened in the aftermath of Lehmans you can see ordinary folk overwhelmed by the complexity and incomprehensible nature of the lighting-bolt which has hit their lives. The only people within kicking distance are politicians. Behind them are faceless regulators, bureaucrats and city managers who have failed in their duties of care.

    Read carefully the speech of Patrick Honohan to Charetered Accountants in Ireland today. He touches on many of the causes of the crisis. I single out a lack of regulation of LIQUIDITY ( over concentration on capital), the role of IFRS accounting and loss provissioning or lack of it,massive borrowings by Irish banks from foreigners to feed the credit boom, GDP government accounting disguising real wealth and productivity, wealth spirited abroad abroad etc etc.

    Not easy stuff for the sound-bite but somehow the media needs to get these things across to the ordinary person ( not bloggers) so that they can be empowered to make their choices and identify the accountable.

  • Comment number 25.

    I agree that we need massive reform of our electoral and planning systems, and that sometime in 2016 would be a good date for a constitutional 'jurga' to complete its work. I have sat through the two-day orgies of rezoning that passed for the closing-stage debates on a county development plan at the height of property mania. My experiences there convinced me that councillors' power should be severely curbed - perhaps by replacing the current plethora of planning bodies with a smaller number,and changing to QMV voting on zoning changes and making the process more tranparent. I'm sorry I can't write more as I have to to get back to work, but there are many other reasons why we need to reboot the republic.

  • Comment number 26.

    An independent grassroots campaign for a Second Republic is underway

    Please spread the word - this is a real, independent campaign for constitutional reform - no big business backers, no existing affiliations

  • Comment number 27.

    The trouble with a republic is of course the direputable privateers who make of with the res publica :

    Apparently this is not a new problem.

    Anyway I suspect some Irish citizens will adopt old solutions. It's no longer necessary to travel stearage to NY, as there is a perfectly good ferry from Dun Leoghaire to Perfidious Albion. Awaiting them are jobs in plastic theme shebeens and the equally hyper-real banking and finance industry which I hear is now recruiting again !?

    For my part , I'm actively engaged in a bit of concrete, finite anarchism of purchasing silver Britannias for Xmas presents:

    and would encourage anyone who wants to see real change to do the same ! All join in the chorus now - Rule Britannia, Britannia waives the rules, Britains never never ..............

  • Comment number 28.

    @24 "....massive borrowings by Irish banks from foreigners to feed the credit boom..."

    This happened in Britain too, if not to the same extent. These foreign borrowings were not capital investment in productiion to foster an increase in trade. They merely fed the property and asset bubble. The money flowing had no connection with the productive capacity of the economy. Now the bubble has burst these debts cannot be repaid. For an ordinary business or individual, bankruptcy would be the result, but the stupid lenders would also be hit. Guaranteeing the banks' debts actually rewards the people who engineered this disaster to start with. It will mean that Ireland's real production will not be supporting its population, but paying off debts in manufactured money.

    There is no perfect or perfectly just solution. Ireland should consider the following actions (1) Repudiate the Bank guarantee (partial sovereign default) - Hawkeye's suggestion of turning bank creditors into shareholders is a good mechanism: this will still make sure that the developers and fraudsters can still be pursued. (2) Leave the Euro and institute a local currency, converting local deposits on a sliding scale. Have foreign trade on the basis of barter until the economy is rebalanced and rebuilt upon real foundations.

    Would this be any worse for the local population than the ECB/IMF "solution"?

    @27 ..shall be ...marri-i-ed to a mer-mi-aid at the bottom of the deep blue sea? ;-D

  • Comment number 29.

    Look at the screenshot in this FT article:

    'Irish Banking System Bleeding Deposits'

    'Ireland Risks A Major Bank Run'

  • Comment number 30.

    It would be interesting to know if your property guy, IT guy and blogger would have supported de Gaulle in 1958, assuming of course we had IT guy and blogger in 1958.

    Some of the posters here just don’t pick up the political points about political economy. If the democratic process we have become used to in the west for over 50 years completely breaks down then sections of society will look to a ‘strong man’ to sort it out. At the moment Paul is picking up some individuals, who may or may not be representative, that want the IMF to sort out the economy over the heads of their elected politicians. The IMF and Brussels however have no means of enforcing their will on Eire and need a proxy to do this for them. There are no IMF police or IMF marines.

    If they don’t get a proxy with some sort of electoral legitimacy and Ireland doesn’t agree and the money doesn’t come through then the state has no money, they can’t print Euros or devalue, public sector workers do not get paid, money stops coming out of the cashpoints and there is social and political chaos.

    At this point do property guy, IT guy and blogger go on the streets to demand that their de Gaulle (or worse) should take over, implement a state of emergency, leave the Euro, devalue, extend the austerity drive and steamroller any opposition. The point being that a de Gaulle, or a Franco is going to stuff the guys interviewed at the football match much more ruthlessly than they will stuff property guy. I’m talking here about abstract middle class property guy as I don’t want to draw conclusions about the one you interviewed last night about whom we know very little.

    Just what are the Trade Unions saying/doing? As you are over there can you find out?

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    Next stop going there?? General strike tomorrow.

  • Comment number 33.

    Could it be that some modern free-market economistsjust can't face the implications of what it would mean if some of the most basic assumptions underlying modern economics are infactempirically false? It would cost them their jobs after all, wouldn't it?
    The pdf [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] chronicles Helmut Nyborg's treatment in Denmark. The fuller picture is quite startling and hopefully it will make it clearer to some that we're now in the midst of a most oddchange which is radically at odds with received wisdom.Yet most will have little understanding of its origin.
    One should question the agenda bandwaggonerspeople like
    these'Mindspacers'as they seem to have 'appropriated' the original work in diversity in order to further deregulate (as set out in the Guardian piece). The originals are still treated much like Nyborg and colleagues, and there are many of them. Most, like the rest of us have, sadly, as Michael Hudson says in his October AMI talk, been conveniently numbed. Still, at least it's made a Cabinet Discussion Document.

    "Over the last decade, ‘behavioural economics’, which seeks to combine the lessons from psychology with those from economics, has moved from a fringe activity to one that is increasingly familiar and accepted. Drawing on the most recent evidence,the full report sets out the most robust effects that influence individual behaviour;demonstrates how these have been, or could be, applied to major policy issues; and considers the practical implications and political concerns about applying these methods. By applying these advances to the real challenges that government and communities face today, it tries to answer the ‘so what?’ question for policy-makers. More generally, there is increasing understanding across the behavioural sciences about the factors that shape and affect our behaviour, in contrast – or complement – to legal and regulatory instruments conventionally used to compel us to behave in particular ways." From MINDSPACE - A Cabinet Office Discussion Document
    The Euro and Its Zone - An Hypothesis:
    By creating the Marshall Plan's European Project after WWII (and ultimately the Euro), the USA had just ONE nation and currency to deal with in its efforts to keep the free market (this prevents unified opposition and governance as a competitor, we a market-garden economy now much like that which was planned for Germany in 1945) running on this side of the Atlantic. Germany was all but a USA Treasury Department (Morgenthau) creation in the mid 1940s, but then, they had to do the Marshall about face because the USSR was using the austerity caused by the Morgenthau Plan to draw the West Germans into the USSR's socialist sphere of influence. Has the USA just continued this over the decades to cripple socialism in Europe and the Warsaw Pact, culminating in the 1990s Russian state asset sell off facilitated by the Chicago Boyz? Why did Osborne meet the Oligarch on that yacht?.
    Perhaps they needed the UK out of the Eurozone so the USA had a damper (like a reactor rod) over here. Look at where the money crisis was run from. It was NY Wall Street and City of London/Canary Wharf. They used Iceland and Ireland. Iceland deregulated its banks making it a deposit haven - i.e a great source of borrowing for property developers. Fiat money and Basle allowed high leverage, making promises based on future growth and low risk via securitisation possible. But the risk was ultimately funded by the peoples of Europe, naively out to make money on property asset booms in ageing/falling populations. Those doing this must have known full well that the people of Europe would also end up having to liquidate state (public) assets in order to bail out the banks when it all crashed (as bubbles always do in Austrian School Business Cycle theory) We're going to see now are mega privatisations (aka asset stripping) of the public sector (not just jobs but assets like land) forced upon Ireland and Greece by the IMF which will surely serve to eradicate the last remnants of socialism in Europe?
    On the face of it, it's predation. Parasitism of one meritocratic elite (see Michael Young's warning) at the expense of the rest. Alas, most people seen to have been effectively numbed to this, as Michael Hudson says in his October talk at the AMI
    Presumably the problem for the USA (and us) now is China and our dwindling and seemingly ever more numb populations? See the seemingly self-destructive Tea Party people like Michele Backmann, and here well, just look and see for yourself.
    Over in Burma, the daughter of the man widely seen to be responsible for Burma's independence from Britain after WWII (Britain may have even been behind his assassination some assert) , the man who founded the Burmese communist party and sided with the Japanese in WWII, is a Nobel Laureate and the BBC's darling? There's another one in China.
    Is this just politics for the numb?
    See Vanhanen in particular

  • Comment number 34.


    There are just so many angles to discuss this from. In general I'd say these can be generalised as the lack of real political choice; nepotism/cronyism; the breakdown of deference; and younger generation responses to the crisis.

    Starting with the last one first: I doubt young, outward-looking Irish are going to lead the revolution towards Republic II. Why? Because they are all emigrating.

    Going back to the first: lack of political choice. The two main parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, were born out of the independence struggle. Once advocated signing the peace treaty with Britain which would have left Ireland with the same status as somewhere like Australia, the other wanted total independence and a republic. Today, they draw their leaders from the same narrow range of elite independent schools (Belvedere, Blackrock, Gonzaga and a couple of others). The general consensus is that if we kick out FF, all we'll get is another Belvedere-educated muppet running the Finance Ministry to replace the one we currently have. There is no clear blue/red/green/orange water between FF and anyone other than Sinn Fein. FG, for instance, accept the whole €15 billion of cuts, no increase in corporation tax line peddled by FF.

    Also keep in mind that FF have been in power almost continuously since the 1930s. Governments excluding them are few and short lived. As a consequence, cronyism is endemic in Irish life. The "Galway Tent" has mythical status. This is the FF hospitality tent at the Galway race festival to which all those wishing to influence government policy aspire. It's the Irish equivalent of being invited to a Royal Garden Party, but with lots of commercialism thrown in too. Overall, we have a situation where the civil service is just an extension of FF. We also have a real old boys (and it is mainly boys) network, where Boy A immediately assumes Boy B to be "a good lad" simply by virtue of a shared educational background. This explains the complete lack of challenge and oversight by the Financial Regulator over the domestic banks, for instance.

    This class definitely needs to go, but is there a way to rid ourselves of them? The only way I see is by voting SF in the election next year. A big increase in SF support would have the same shock factor as Joerg Haider's success in Austria a few years ago. Ireland is definitely also a place where term limits would be useful. Too many TDs (MPs) have a de facto personal fiefdom rather than a constituency. Ireland would also benefit from attracting more foreigners to run large enterprises and, I'd suggest, government departments (at official as opposed to political level). It is interesting to note how many vested interests the new Financial Regulator has upset in his short tenure. He is a Leeds United-supporting import from Britain. Need I say more?

    There will not be a revolution. Those who would normally lead such a thing, the educated and idealistic young, are simply emigrating.

  • Comment number 35.

    France isn't the only country to count republics in that way; in Italy the Mani pulite investigations (leading as they did to the collapse of the old party state) are usually seen as the dividing line between the First Republic and the Second Republic. Might be a better parallel with what may happen in Ireland than the multiple republics of France, actually.

  • Comment number 36.

    You might be interested in these two articles which I published in the 1980s during the last major economic crisis here in the Republic of Ireland
    1) Some "future-casting" entitled Ireland’s Second Republic
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    I ask you to note that to this day, I resent to the fact thatthe Editor omitted – without asking me or letting me know - a few sentences referring to a Swiss –style citizens’ initiative. I still regard this as one of a set of checks and balances needed to limit the scope for excess by the powerful – public and private, elected or appointed – so that government is competent and moderate.

    2) This contained a reference to David Owens reference to the change from the fourth to the Fifth Republic in France
    "In Britain. serious,questions are also being raised about their machinery of government which we have copied so closely. For example, Dr David Owen, the SDP leader, recently pointed out that "In 1958. France was in a similar state of economic decline to ourselves. The lesson from France is not that we should have a powerful President... The lesson is that in France, constitutional changes preceded economic recovery. Indeed it was the prerequisite. The change from the Fourth to the Fifth Republic was an integral part of French success building up slowly over the subsequent 10 years ...'" Is this what James Cawley of Atlantic Resources had in mind during the pre-election National Business Conference organised by Fianna Fail, when he drew attention to the parallels between Ireland now and France in the late 1950s? ""
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 37.

    We keep talking about nation states as discrete political and economic entities the touchingly naive way UKIP seriously imagine we can "win our independence back" from the EU...but as wikileaks and the actual behaviour of our governments clearly establish...we are effectively part of a vast global capitalist empire dominated by moneylenders and currency speculators and oligarchs and media moguls and their cronies in our legislatures.

    The Celtic Tiger becoming a Celtic Turkey was entirely predictable.... because the British Isles is a wholly owned plaything of powerful Americans... who love to rub the noses of us English taxpayers in the mud ...using their EU and their IRA and Media and their beloved City of London, take us to the cleaners...and laugh all the way to their banks.

    What basis in economic reality was there for Ireland to become so prosperous....or for us to have a "boom"?When did the British Isles last seriously export anything except perhaps home-grown islamist terror?


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