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The Troika's back, well someone has to watch over us

With the Government having made a complete hash of things over the past year, news that the Troika are coming back provides some reassurance that things won't get even worse.

Cast your mind back to last December. The Troika were going home after three years and our economic "sovereignty" had been restored.

No more photographs of the IMF's Ajai Chopra (below) pacing the streets. The Government was even able to exit the bailout without a safety net. Bliss!

Eleven months later things are looking very different. Without the Troika to correct its homework, it seems as if our Government can't do anything right.

Irish Water has turned into a complete disaster, we are in the middle of a fresh property price bubble, the EU has our corporate tax regime in its sights and Sinn Fein is the most popular political party in the country.

This is despite the economy being set to grow by almost 5pc this year, the fastest economic growth rate in Europe, rapid expansion in the numbers at work and the Government being able to end austerity a year early.

watching

If it was raining soup, these guys would have a fork.

But, like that organisation of which Gerry Adams was never a member, they haven't gone away you know. While the post-November 2010 economic occupation may have come to an end last December, the Troika retains a watching brief on our affairs.

Next week a Troika delegation will travel to Dublin. The November 2010 bailout agreement provided for twice-year visits until we repay 75pc of the €67.5bn which we borrowed from the Troika.

The delegation will quiz the Government on a number of issues including the water charges mess, the new property bubble, the failure to reform the legal and medical professions, and the continuing mortgage arrears crisis.

To which one can only say: thank God someone is seeking to hold them to account.

Since the departure of the Troika, the Coalition has been at sixes and sevens. Without adult supervision it has reverted to the bad old habits of its predecessor with alarming speed.

At times it is almost as if the post-Celtic Tiger bust had never happened. The lessons of that economic collapse have certainly been forgotten.

The Troika are visiting us just a week after former US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner described the previous government's decision to unconditionally guarantee the deposits of the Irish-owned banks, a move that ultimately led to the 2010 bailout, as "stupid".

It's hard to disagree with him.

While it could be argued that what happened on the night of September 29-30 2008 is water under the bridge, Geithner's comments should serve as a long overdue wakeup call.

SERIOUS

For all of the talk of 'recovery' there is still serious doubt about Ireland's economic management in international circles.

Which means that those of us who'd like to think that the events of the past six years were a bad dream, and that we can now revert to our pre-2008 ways, are dangerously deluded.

With the Government's year-end debts likely to exceed €210bn, Ireland remains a very highly-indebted country.

The Troika are going to be on to our case for a long time to come.


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