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No money, no leaders, no Irish: what the world's papers say

Guess what the world’s press makes of Ireland’s latest political woes? No prizes for guessing: they don’t think it’s good.

The Financial Times says the Greens withdrawal could prompt Fianna Fáil's
The Financial Times says the Greens withdrawal could prompt Fianna Fáil's "electoral annihilation".
Image: Julien Behal/PA Wire

THE IRISH NEWSPAPERS today are obviously more than saturated with comment and analysis about the weekend’s extraordinary economic events, but from a business point of view, the overseas press isn’t much more friendly.

Brian Cowen’s botched attempt to remain as the head of government – which only a day later became a single-party entity after the Greens withdrew from power – attracts much ire from the international media today, with many bemoaning yet another story to keep Ireland on the front pages for all the wrong reasons.

“The withdrawal of Ireland’s junior coalition party from government will do little to slow the pace of austerity,” Reuters says in its ‘snap analysis’, published in the hours after the Greens’ withdrawal.

“But [it] deepens a political crisis that has compounded negative sentiment toward the euro zone straggler… amid such theatre, the government is lucky that it does not have to go to the markets for its funding needs.”

As KBC’s chief economist Austin Hughes tells it, “It keeps Ireland on the front pages with a bad story, and to that extent it will keep near-term sentiment that bit more negative.”

London financial freesheet City AM insists that whatever happens as a result of the coming weeks’ political upheaval, “the crucial issue is that uncertainty regarding the Irish banks is eliminated.”

Its article, written by CNBC’s Louisa Bojesen, concludes:

One thing is sure: whoever becomes the next Irish prime minister has a humongous job ahead.

Over at the New York Times, meanwhile, the main crux is that John Gormley scored one of his greater political victories in the words he chose to explain why his party was leaving government, which cruelly echo the greater public sentiment: “Our patience has reached an end”.

John Burns’ piece also suggests that financial markets will crucify Ireland’s prospects if the Finance Bill is not turned into a Finance Act before the country goes to the polls.

With nearly two months having passed already without parliamentary backing, financial experts have warned that further delays could unsettle financial markets, causing fresh uncertainties for other European countries with economies threatened by crushing debt.

The BBC’s Dublin correspondent, Shane Harrison, writes that the Greens’ withdrawal – although intending to expedite a general election – is a double-edged sword, because its actions mean that the “fog of uncertainty” remains over Ireland.

“That’s because we still don’t know whether the Finance Bill can be passed and, if so, when. Nor do we have a date for a general election, although it will almost certainly be sooner rather than later,” he writes.

“The Greens may have hoped to end the uncertainty but it soon became clear: confusion still reigns.”

That confusion, the Financial Times’ stinging editorial today writes, will hit Fianna Fáil hardest. In a piece simply titled ‘Irish meltdown’, the paper’s editor Lionel Barber writes that the natural party of government may face an electoral battering that could prove terminal.

A Fianna Fáil “electoral annihilation”, the leader says, “may be richly deserved”:

This is, after all, the party that through its cronyism and incompetence artificially prolonged the boom of the 1990s into the credit and property bubble of the past decade, and then gave a blanket guarantee to its banker friends that has ended in the humiliation of Ireland becoming a ward of the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. [...]

This should also be the occasion for the independent voices clamouring for a new politics in Ireland to come forward and lay out their stalls. Irish voters, and the future of the republic, need no less.

Perhaps, however, it’s best to finish with this clip, of the BBC’s Joe Lynam discussing the Irish economic and political meltdown on the BBC News channel yesterday. As an Irishman, he says, his reporting job isn’t much fun right now.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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