| 16.4°C Dublin

No more teacher's pet, Enda - it's time to act like a teen delinquent

As Europe's leaders put off any agreement on fixing the eurozone crisis until at least Wednesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny must insist that Ireland gets the same treatment on debt write-downs and bank bailouts that other countries get.

Am I alone in feeling that the eurozone crisis is coming to resemble a modern Groundhog Day?

You know, the 1993 film with Bill Murray as the TV reporter who keeps reliving the same day over and over again.

Here we are more than three years later and the issues remain virtually the same and nothing has been solved.

Instead Europe's leaders, most of whom seem psychologically incapable of taking any decisions, continue to avoid making the hard choices which are necessary to save the single currency.

Now, if the advance publicity is to be believed, the plan to save the euro will finally be unveiled by Europe's leaders on Wednesday.

While I, along with most of the population of Europe, won't be holding my breath, there is likely to be some sort of an announcement on the extent of the Greek debt write-down and a plan to recapitalise mainland European banks who will be forced to recognise hefty losses when this happens.

At which point, Taoiseach Enda Kenny should get his oar in.

Ever since we were bounced into an EU/IMF bailout against our will almost a year ago, we in this country have worked hard at being the best pupil in the European bailout class.

For all the good it has done us.

Our penal bailout interest rate was only lowered when the worsening Greek crisis forced the EU's hand last July.

Meanwhile, we are expected to shoulder the full burden of the bank bailout and repay our debts, which when the almost €150bn the ECB and the Irish Central Bank has lent the Irish banks, the €30bn of NAMA bonds and the €30.6bn of promissory notes that have been pledged to Anglo Irish and Irish Nationwide are all added up, gives us an effective gross national debt of more than €300bn.

Even when some double-counting is allowed for, the real Irish national debt is well over €250bn.

Which is at least twice the total value of Ireland's forecast 2011 national income (GNP) of €125bn and eight times likely tax revenues of €34bn.



Brats

So how can we possibly repay all of this money?

The answer, of course, is that we can't and, despite what our Government keeps on saying, we eventually won't.

So how do we start to shed our unsustainable debt burden?

Wednesday's summit might be a good place to start. Instead of playing the role of teacher's pet, it is high time that Enda Kenny and Michael Noonan rediscovered their inner teenage brats.

With the cigire about to pay a visit they should make it explicitly clear that they are prepared to cut up rough and ruin the teacher's big day.

Whatever concessions the Greeks and the mainland European banks get, we should insist upon receiving also.

A good place to start would be the promissory notes, of which only €3.5bn have actually been paid so far.

If the Greeks are getting a 50pc-plus write-down on their debts then why should the Irish taxpayer be saddled with the costs of the promissory notes for two zombie banks for the next generation? If the ECB is so keen to prevent bank failures within the eurozone, then it should pick up the tab.

We also need to force the ECB to take a haircut on the €100bn it has lent the Irish banks, €70bn of which went to repay the bondholders of banks it knew to be bust. Forcing the Irish taxpayer to meet the full cost rescuing the bank bondholders is not just immoral, it's also probably illegal.

So Enda, no more Mr Nice Guy.

Unless we get the same treatment as everyone else then we are going from teacher's pet to juvenile delinquent.