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The chaos in cabinet: What the rest of the world thinks

What did the rest of the world make of Unholy Thursday?

WHILE THE COUNTRY deals with the fallout from yesterday’s cabinet chaos, the rest of the world has been left bemused by what the Boston Globe calls a sequences of “events that have had more than a tinge of political farce” and the Daily Mail describes as “a day of unprecedented turmoil”.

In the Globe, John F. Burns writes:

For Fianna Fail, which has held the largest bloc of seats in Parliament continuously since 1932, the recent infighting has been one of the most embarrassing episodes in its history… The events appeared to have made Cowen a figure of contempt to many in his own party.

In a longer piece in today’s International Herald Tribune, Burns adds:

As prime minister for most of the past three years, and finance minister for four years before that, Mr. Cowen has been widely blamed for the government’s failure to curb a property boom fueled by reckless lending by Irish banks, and then for pushing a blanket government guarantee for the banks’ debts, thereby sticking Irish taxpayers with the bill and threatening the country’s solvency.

His reputation was not helped by denying insistently, until days before the start of negotiations on the international bailout, that a rescue was necessary.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Niall O’Dowd takes an even less sympathetic view, noting that Fianna Fail will pay the price for the extraordinary economic collapse:

The party collapse will be the legacy of the Wild West era since 2000, when developers and bankers aided by a cosy relationship with government politicians plundered the Irish economy, building ghost housing estates all over Ireland and granting massive loans to insiders.

No oversight of banks, no oversight of property speculation, no ability to read that the Celtic Tiger was about to crash has doomed the party.

The IMF eventually were called in to rescue Ireland, but left the Irish taxpayer saddled with $100 billion in debts from bad banks and toxic real estate deals.

The hatred and resentment against Fianna Fail is incredible to witness… Now comes the comeuppance, the moment when Europe’s most successful political party is brought to its knees. After March 11, the Irish political landscape will never be the same again.

The Financial Times speculates that “such is the public anger at politicians in general that some analysts believe Ireland could witness a watershed election, with a big swing to the left, which would benefit Labour but also Sinn Féin and left-leaning independents.”

To outsiders it might seem odd that any Fianna Fáil politician would challenge Mr Cowen, as Michéal Martin did this week, for the dubious honour of leading the party in what looks certain to be its worst ever defeat… But Mr Cowen has seemed to lose his political touch. His brazen attempt to organise a pre-election reshuffle on Thursday backfired badly.

Reuters describes Cowen as “the most unpopular premier in recent history” and says the “public was not impressed by the turmoil in government”. It quotes a woman called Bernadette, who owns a wine-importing business:

I’d line them up against a wall and shoot the lot of them.

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Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph highlights a recent spat between Joe Higgins and Jose Manuel Barroso, in which the President of the European Commission said the EU was “stepping in to save Ireland from its own foolish mistakes in fiscal policy”.

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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