For those who don’t wish to be economical with the truth, and those who are bearing the burden, let’s look at some numbers:
• Number of people employed: Down by 13 per cent since January 2008.
• Number of people unemployed: Up from 107,000 in January 2008 to 296,300 today.
• Annualised domestic growth rate: –1.2 per cent.
• Net emigration: The number of people leaving the country is higher than the number coming in by 35,000. Gross emigration was more than 80,000 last year alone. In six years it went from the highest net immigration level in Europe to the highest emigration, overtaking the Baltic states and Kosovo. Meanwhile a group of students and other young people in Dublin has launched a campaign called “We’re not leaving” after the Government sent out letters encouraging young people to seek jobs abroad.
• Government deficit as a proportion of GDP: 7.3 per cent.
• Public debt: 121 per cent of GDP in 2013, up from 91 per cent in 2010 and 105 per cent in 2011.
• Household debt: 200 per cent of GDP. There are people living on €50 per week or less after paying their bills. We have had eight austerity budgets since 2008; in the community sector there have been cuts of 35 to 40 per cent.
• Value of assets underpinning household debt: –56 per cent since the crisis began.
•Mortgages in arrears for more than six months: 17 per cent of all mortgages.
(Read the whole thing at Blog An Phobail - http://www.irishreferendum.org/ )
The claim of a successful Irish programme is complete rubbish. The government has got its interest rate down through a mix of Troika-ECB backing and confidence in the government’s ability to follow the rules; but all the underlying economic problems are still there, and will not go away. The Irish debt-to-GDP ratio will continue to rise in the foreseeable future.
Since the 1980s Ireland has tried to run its economic policy essentially by appealing to the rest of the world—that is, by “sucking up.” Whatever everyone else is saying, the Irish government will do with gusto. Mix this with a little bit of clever behind-the-scenes diplomacy and you have Irish economic policy.
After the crisis the Fine Gael and Labour Party government essentially followed the formula that is supposed to have worked so well in the 1990s and 2000s. So when the Troika said, Get your bond yields down through compliance ... the government did exactly that.
There is a widespread belief that this will automatically lead to economic growth. This belief is entirely irrational, but that matters little. The politicians have convinced us that, as long as they achieve this target, all else will be well.
There is a profound sense of injustice but also a feeling that we can’t do anything about it: that we’re a small country on the periphery of the EU, powerless against the EU Commission, the ECB, and the IMF. And as long as we avoid the fundamental questions of membership of the euro and our continuing relationship with the EU, it will remain so.
A national debate on these issues would be a first but necessary step to empowering the Irish people once again...