Irish protest – sort of – as bailout details emerge
The Irish government says a $112.5 billion bailout will come with a 5.8 percent interest rate. The public appears unhappy with the bailout, but uncertain where to direct its anger.
(Page 2 of 2)
“This is a very good deal for Ireland in current circumstances,” IMF mission chief Ajai Chopra of the bailout terms.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
“The interest rate has to be low enough to ensure Ireland has some chance of paying it back, but it also has to be high enough to push Ireland back into the private sovereign debt market,” he says.
Dr. Kinsella says the deal is a good one for the country given the circumstances – but he notes the burden it places in Ireland. That burden is fueling public discontent ahead of a general election expected within two months. The Green party recently announced its intention to pull out of the coalition government come January.
David Cochrane, who runs the Web discussion forum politics.ie, says the Irish public is both stunned and confused by the events of the last few weeks and places the blame at the government’s feet.
“The government has not communicated what it’s doing,” he says.
“First they denied a bailout was being negotiated, and then we find out it is happening. Over the weekend, they have failed to communicate the details of what is being negotiated,” he says.
Other than opposition to the government and bailout, there is little sense of a plan of action that could be agreed on.
Despite frigid weather, an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets of Dublin on Saturday to signal their opposition to the bailout and proposed cuts to the minimum wage but the protest was far from angry.
“Never have I seen so many Irish people walk the walk of protest with so little sense of purpose or anger,” says Steven Daley, an unemployed worker who traveled from Mayo county in Western Ireland to attend the protest. "There was no sense of any meaningful direction.”
Ireland’s labor unions are considered by many, even on the left, to have been acting hand-in-glove with the government throughout the boom years due to the so-called social partnership policy that saw industrial action avoided in favor of regular pay rises for public employees.