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Sarah Carey: We've had enough, now it's time to tell the EU to sod off

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Department of Finance, Merrion Street, Dublin.

Department of Finance, Merrion Street, Dublin.

Department of Finance, Merrion Street, Dublin.

The Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, a committee of smart boys and worthies, is worried that the Government is going to spend too much money next year.

Worried! Following the publication of the advice, some commentators furrowed their brows and criticised the Government for daring to ignore this esteemed advice. Its policy of rolling back on planned cuts has been pejoratively labelled as "politics".

I don't know all of these chaps. However, I know them by reputation and when it comes to doing sums, they are top of the class.

I also acknowledge that the failure of past governments to follow advice left us in a pickle. But this time it's different.

This time there's an urgent imperative to do a bit of rounding up. The commentators are worried that if we don't make enough cuts, we'll breach the EU Stability Pact which says we must reach a borrowing target of 3pc.

If we don't meet this terribly important number then Very Bad Things will happen. I'm not entirely sure what the Very Bad Things are, but I suppose one could expect a stiff letter from a French or German technocrat in Frankfurt.

If I was in the Department of Finance I'd have great pleasure in sticking that letter in the bin. The EU and its wretched Stability Pact is not the important thing here.

stress

The important thing is politics and I'd really like to know why commentators are so sniffily deriding the Government for developing a political - as opposed to an economic - policy.

What is politics but the people? And if there is one thing on which we all agree (well, except for the worthies) it's that the people have had enough.

I know they have, because I've had enough. And if a stoic, middle-class, staunch supporter of the centre who entered into this recession with a Blitz spirit, has had enough, then the jig is up.

It's the stress. I can't stick it any more, and I want a break. So the council is going to have sod off, and we're going to have to tell the EU to sod off.

The only people who are doing a Celine Dion and urging that Austerity must go on [and on, and on, and on] are the people insulated from its worst effects; the university professors, quango kings and the entire universe of public sector organisations and committees who are sure of their jobs and sure of their pensions.

Like those chaps on the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council. Or its sole female member, who is Irish but lives in America.

It's not their fault, but they simply have no idea what it's like out in a world of zero hours contracts and self-employment, where workers' rights and job security are a myth.

As I say, I'm sure they're all great at the maths, but just as with the IMF, World Bank, EU and EC, they'll never live out the consequences of their decisions.

And let me tell you about that other group, the university professors.

I can't get them to come on my Newstalk show on Saturdays during the summer because they're holidaying on the Continent or taking mini-breaks on Bank Holiday weekends. Oh, for a mini-break. How boom-y was that concept?

Anyway, back to politics, so dismissed and disliked by commentators. I know democracy has its flaws, but it's not like the Irish people have been unreasonable.

emigration

We've had five years of harsh recession and, by and large, it has been borne well. Emigration has provided a safety valve and extended families have held each other up.

But everyone has their limits and it is entirely justified for the Irish people to say to their politicians that they need a break. Something, anything, will do.

Otherwise there is no guarantee that the centre will hold. Although there are days when I'd like to throw a brick myself, I often wonder what Paul Murphy, Shane Ross and Sinn Fein would actually do in government?

I predict two things. First, they'd go native within 24 hours and we'd watch the revolution fizzle out. Then they'd fall out with each other and bring on a series of elections with unstable coalitions.

None of this would help alleviate the stress and pressure on families all around Ireland.

The Government knows this and has decided to call off the Hounds of Austerity. It might be politics, but it's good politics.


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