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IMF's Lagarde tries to woo us with her 'Oirish' charm offensive

THE tough French mistress of the IMF tried to win over Irish minds with a bit of paddywhackery during her trip to Dublin.

Wearing a green scarf, Christine Lagarde quoted Peig Sayers, WB Yeats and a few Irish phrases before commending Ireland's "tenacious" response to the financial crisis.

She said Ireland deserves recognition for successfully meeting its targets, adding that she would be open to delaying the repayment of our bailout loans. But she also warned that the organisation would not invent new rules to help Ireland's cause.

Madame Lagarde spent Thursday night in Baggot Street's famous Doheny and Nesbitt's pub – where she was brought by ministers Michael Noonan and Joan Burton.

And in an well-scripted speech at Dublin Castle, she quoted directly from some of our most prestigious poets and playwriters.

"Despite what Peig Sayers might say, the Irish economy does not have "one foot in the grave and the other foot on its edge", she said.

She was highly complimentary of what she described as Ireland's "tenacious" response to the financial crisis – and all this delivered just 24-hours before Ireland take on France in the Six Nations Championship in the Aviva Stadium.

"Ireland has always exceeded expectations in the world: in the arena of culture, in the laboratory of science and technology, on the field of sport – as the French might find out tomorrow!

Crisis

"It has always been a country of great resilience and reinvention and great humanity. Time and time again, in the face of overwhelming odds, it has bounced back, stronger and more confident than before."

She added: "This time is no different. As Taoiseach Enda Kenny put it, the Irish people have borne the burden of economic crisis with 'remarkable courage and patience and quiet dignity'.

"I believe this is testament to the enduring character of the Irish people, a character shaped by inner strength and determination, forged by time-honoured bonds of trust and solidarity.

"A character that the great Irish writer Edna O'Brien once referred to as 'ferociously tenacious'."

Ms Lagarde also said the IMF would keep an open mind on the possibility of extending the maturity date of the bailout loans.

Asked by a spokesperson for the St Vincent de Paul about the hardship being experienced by the Irish people, Ms Lagarde replied: "The only answer to all that is to actually finish that moment of hardship and get on with actually creating value, developing jobs, being able to invest and to do that then in a measured, sensible balanced and responsible way – not get ahead of ourselves yet again."

noconnor@herald.ie


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